EU referendum announced for 23 June 2016
Week in Westminster
Published: 26 February 2016 | Author: Michelle Vosper
So David Cameron’s EU renegotiations are finally over and the EU referendum has been set for 23 June. This week we have seen a daily stream of ministers, former ministers, MPs, business leaders etc, announcing their in/out intentions. Less than 48 hours after the referendum date was announced, campaigning is in full swing!
On completion of its proceedings, the High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Bill Select committee has reported back to the House of Commons. During its evidence sessions, the committee heard cases where mortgage valuers had put a ‘nil’ value on property or had recommended against lending on property affected by HS2 entirely. In its report, the committee suggested this was “nonsense” and referred to their “expectation” for mortgage lenders to recognise that “no valuer should declare an affected property either valueless or unmortgageable if blight reduces the present open market value by normal amounts”. The Bill will now be submitted to a public bill committee for line by line scrutiny.
Housing affordability, and in particular Starter Homes and Right to Buy, was the subject of a short Lords debate. Opening the debate, LibDem communities spokesperson Lord Shipley called on government to assess the policy's impact. He argued that the discounts provided on Starter Homes should be retained longer than five years. “Housing is too important to rely on short-term planning”, he said and suggested the creation of a housing investment bank.
Stamp Duty Land Tax will be devolved to Wales from April 2018, and be replaced by Land Transaction Tax. In advance of this, the Welsh government has launched “a Welsh Tax conversation” in which it invites views on the shape of future Welsh tax arrangements.
The Scottish Parliament meanwhile agreed the general principles of its Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill during its stage one debate. MSPs raised concerns about the impact of the surcharge introduced by the Bill on the buy-to-let and private rented sectors and the possibility of unintended consequences, particularly from the double counting when a house is sold before another is bought. Those contributing to the debate stressed the need for the impact of the tax impact to be monitored, and questioned whether Scotland would delay implementing if the similar proposals are delayed in England. The Scottish government agreed the Finance Committee’s recommendation to exempt buyers purchasing six or more properties in one transaction. They remain open to considering implementing a grace period for transactions further down the line, and will ask Revenue Scotland to monitor the position once the tax is in place.
The Scottish government are consulting on proposals to introduce a Rental Income Guarantee Scheme for the private rented sector. The scheme would see the Scottish government sharing a proportion of rental income risk associated with large-scale new developments, in the hope that this will incentivise construction within the build-to-rent sector.