2014年9月30日星期二

Stamp duty rockets by £1.5bn in a year: Homebuyers paid £6.4bn in just 12 months as Treasury cashes in on soaring house prices



  • Critics have accused the Government of being ‘addicted’ to revenue from stamp duty

  • Ministers have failed to update bands for the fee, which range from 1% for homes costing up to £250,000 to 7% for those £2million-plus

  • Amount paid in stamp duty is now almost at level last seen at height of property boom in 2007




Stamp duty receipts have rocketed £1.5billion in just one year as the Treasury cashed in on soaring house prices.


Homebuyers paid £6.4billion in the levy in the last tax year, up almost a third from £4.9billion in 2012-13.


Critics have accused the Government of being ‘addicted’ to revenue from stamp duty, which is paid on house purchases over £125,000.



Critics have accused the Government of being ‘addicted’ to revenue from stamp duty, which is paid on house purchases over £125,000 (File photo)


Critics have accused the Government of being ‘addicted’ to revenue from stamp duty, which is paid on house purchases over £125,000 (File photo)



Ministers have failed to update bands for the fee, which range from 1 per cent for homes costing up to £250,000 to 7 per cent for those of £2million-plus.


This means thousands more first-time buyers have been dragged into the net as house prices have risen by double figures across many regions.


Official data shows an extra £700million was raked in for 2013-14 compared with the previous year from buyers of homes under £500,000. The amount paid in stamp duty is now almost at the level last seen at the height of the property boom in 2007.


Paula Higgins, chief executive of the HomeOwners’ Alliance, said: ‘It is an astonishing rise which will anger homeowners.


‘Stamp duty used to be a tax on wealthier homeowners but it is now trapping first-time buyers.’ She said the ‘sneaky tax’ was one of the biggest barriers to getting on the property ladder.



The Office for National Statistics says the average UK house price is £272,000 after taking figures from all lenders


The Office for National Statistics says the average UK house price is £272,000 after taking figures from all lenders



Lucian Cook, a director at Savills estate agents, said failing to update the bands for stamp duty raises barriers to home ownership in London and the South East as well as making it ‘more difficult to move up the ladder across wider swathes of the country in the longer term’.


He added that higher rates for costlier homes give ‘the Treasury a windfall of receipts that further blurs the lines between stamp duty being a tool to control the housing market and being a revenue raiser’.





The Office for National Statistics says the average UK house price is £272,000 after taking figures from all lenders. This puts swathes of middle-class families in the 3 per cent bracket, facing stamp duty of at least £7,500.


The average London home now costs £514,000, meaning a stamp duty levy of 4 per cent and a bill of at least £20,000.


More than £1billion was collected from sales of homes worth more than £2million in 2013-14, up 26 per cent on the previous year.


Mr Cook said this vast sum cast doubt on the need for Labour’s proposed mansion tax.


A Treasury spokesman said all taxes were kept under review but the priority was still cutting the deficit. ‘Stamp duty raises several billion pounds each year, which helps pay for essential services,’ she added.











Call for inquiry into £600 bill to watch live Premier League football on TV: Virgin Media claims way rights are auctioned leaves fans paying highest prices in Europe



  • The minimum monthly cost of watching live Premier League is £51

  • Football fans in Germany pay £21 a month to watch top teams

  • In Italy fans pay £25 and in Spain it is just £18




TV watchdogs are under pressure to launch an inquiry into the rip-off cost of watching live Premier League football on television, which can be more than £600 a year.


The pay TV and broadband company Virgin Media claims the way the Premier League sells the rights to top flight matches means armchair fans in the UK are hit with unfair fees.


The net result is that clubs like Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City are sharing in billions of pounds from fans whose passion and loyalty is being abused.


TV watchdogs are under pressure to launch an inquiry into the rip-off cost of watching live Premier League football on television, which can be more than £600 a year

TV watchdogs are under pressure to launch an inquiry into the rip-off cost of watching live Premier League football on television, which can be more than £600 a year



Virgin claims that viewers in the UK are getting a raw deal both on the cost of watching matches and the fact that many games are not broadcast live.


It calculates that the minimum monthly cost of watching live Premier League games on the sports channels of Sky and BT comes in at £51.


That works out at £612 a year, which is more than four times higher than the BBC licence fee of £145.50, which covers all of its many TV and radio channels, including Match of the Day.


The £51 figure is much higher than the £21 month charge football fans in Germany must pay to see top flight teams such as the Bayern Munich and Dortmund in the Bundesliga.


It is also more than double the £25 charged in Italy to watch Serie A, and compares to £18 in Spain to follow Barcelona and Real Madrid and just £10 a month in France.


Access to games in the UK is also far more limited compared to the rest of Europe. Here only 41per cent of Premier League games – 154 out of 380 – are broadcast live in a season. By contrast all games are broadcast live on TV in Spain, Germany, France and Italy.


Research commissioned by Virgin found more than 15per cent of viewers say they could not watch the games they wanted through their TV provider, while 25per cent found that games were not included in their pay TV subscription.


Arsenals Aaron Ramsey controls the ball during a English Premiere League match against Tottenham Hotspur; Virgin Media claims the way Premier League sells the rights to top flight matches means armchair fans in the UK are hit with unfair fees

Arsenals Aaron Ramsey controls the ball during a English Premiere League match against Tottenham Hotspur; Virgin Media claims the way Premier League sells the rights to top flight matches means armchair fans in the UK are hit with unfair fees



Virgin argues that the way the Premier League packages and sells the TV rights to football in this country works to artificially inflate the price.


As a result, the cost of Premier League domestic live TV rights increased by 70per cent to a staggering £3 billion over three years in the last auction. It is predicted to rise by a further 60per cent when they are sold next time.


The high prices charged by the Premier League means teams in the top flight are able pay world stars like Radamel Falcao, Wayne Rooney and Yaya Toure well over £200,000 a week.


It also means there is absolutely no chance of live Premier League games ever returning to free-to-air terrestrial TV channels like the BBC and ITV ever again.


While the sports channel subscriptions are extortionate enough in themselves, BT has been accused of putting up many other charges for all its customers in order to cover the millions of pounds it has paid to the Premier League.


Virgin Media has asked Ofcom to open a formal investigation under the Competition Act 1998 into the arrangements by which the FA Premier League sells live UK television rights to its games.


It claims the current regime causes ‘significant consumer harm’ resulting from escalating rights costs.


The firm’s chief corporate affairs officer, Brigitte Trafford, said: ‘The rapidly rising cost of Premier League live broadcast rights means UK fans pay the highest prices in Europe to watch football on TV. Virgin Media has asked Ofcom to investigate how the rights are sold ahead of the next auction.’


The Premier League insisted the auction process it uses is entirely legal. A spokesman said: ‘Live Premier League audio-visual rights have always been sold in a transparent and open process.


‘Regulators have examined our rights packaging and sales process in considerable detail in the past and found both of them to be compliant with UK and European competition law.


‘If Ofcom chooses to investigate this complaint, we will of course be happy to demonstrate to Ofcom that this is the case.’