Philip Hammond should scrap stamp duty because it would give the British economy a £10billion boost and address the “gumming up” of the housing market, a report has recommended. The Adam Smith Institute warned the tax is putting people off moving to new jobs and keeps homebuyers living in houses that are far too large for their needs. The think tank claimed such is the damage done by stamp duty that it is “almost as bad as setting fire to the money instead of raising it in tax” and that it should be “consigned to the dustbin of history”. The Telegraph is campaigning to remove stamp duty amid fears it is stifling the housing market and the Adam Smith Institute joins ministers and peers in calling on the Chancellor to take action on the issue when he delivers his Budget on November 22.
CHANCELLOR Philip Hammond is being urged to axe the hated stamp duty — and unleash a £10billion boost for Britain. A think tank called the levy on home-buying the “most damaging tax in the country”. The Adam Smith Institute said it was “gumming up” the housing market, stopping people from moving and forcing them into huge commutes to take up new jobs. The tax makes £12billion a year, but abolishing it in the Budget would spark a £10billion economic boom and improve the housing market “at a stroke”, said a report. Stamp duty was just one per cent for decades until Labour introduced a series of higher bands in 1997. Regular hikes mean that buyers now pay five per cent on a house worth above £250,000, with a punishing 12 per cent levied on homes worth £1.5million or more.
PHILIP Hammond should scrap stamp duty which will create an economic boom and improve the housing market “at a stroke”, according to a report by a think tank. The tax makes £12billion a year but abolishing it in the Autumn Budget will trigger a £10billion economic boom and improve the housing market, according to the report. The Adam Smith Institute called stamp duty the “most damaging tax in the country” because regular hikes mean home buyers pay five per cent on houses worth more than £250,000 and 12 per cent on homes worth £1.5million and more. Stamp duty was one per cent for decades but Labour introduced a series of bands in 1997.
Philip Hammond must scrap stamp duty on property sales to solve the housing crisis and boost the economy, a think-tank warned last night. The Adam Smith Institute said the ‘damaging’ tax – which raised £11.7billion last year – stopped Britons moving jobs and kept them in houses too large for their needs. By penalising older people for downsizing, stamp duty makes the number of larger homes on the market for growing families even smaller. Meanwhile, ahead of the November 22 Budget: It was reported that Mr Hammond was set to unveil a U-turn on the Government’s controversial Universal Credit welfare policy; Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt confirmed yesterday that the Treasury was looking at a possible pay rise for NHS workers; A leading think-tank warned Mr Hammond he would have to abandon plans to eliminate the deficit if he wanted to put more cash into public services.
The chancellor is between “a rock and a hard place” for his forthcoming Budget on 22 November, a think tank says. Philip Hammond may have to abandon his target for getting rid of the deficit if he wants to increase spending on public services, the Institute for Fiscal Studies said. He is also facing a likely cut in the forecast for productivity growth, and uncertainty around Brexit, it said. The Treasury said it would continue to adopt a “balanced approach”. Mr Hammond is to unveil his Budget on 22 November – the first since the general election. He has said he aims to eliminate the budget deficit – the difference between the government’s everyday spending and the money it has coming in – by the middle of the next decade.
Ministers are reportedly preparing for a major U-turn on the rollout of Universal Credit in the Budget by reducing the controversial six-week wait to four for the first payment to claimants. It comes after weeks of sustained pressure on Downing Street from Conservative backbenchers, the Labour party and charities warning the Government’s flagship welfare programme – due to be accelerated this month – is pushing recipients into poverty, arrears and a reliance on food banks. The main anxiety among MPs and charities focuses on the six-week wait claimants are forced to endure before receiving their first payment under the new regime after transferring from the legacy benefits system.
Theresa May is resisting calls from Philip Hammond to free green belt land for housing as he seeks radical cost-free measures for the budget. The chancellor wants to use next month’s statement to continue to tackle Britain’s poor productivity, and the lack of housing in high-demand areas is regarded as a key factor. His allies were buoyed when Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Conservative MP for North East Somerset, joined calls for a review of the green belt. Mr Hammond has been arguing within the cabinet for months that some of the protected countryside should be reclassified as part of a housing package that could allow extra borrowing to fund house building.
OWEN Paterson has demanded the British Government stop blindly following the EU and take back the initiative and power in the Brexit talks by confirming a no-deal scenario. The leading Brexiteer has lambasted the EU for their “flat refusal to negotiate” and urged the British Government to wake up to this fact. As a Brexit no-deal scenario becomes ever more likely, Owen Paterson has claimed the UK side needed to start preparing for this inevitability of walking away from negotiations without an agreement. Speaking to Sky News this morning, Mr Paterson said the scaremongering about a no-deal was “all rather dramatic talk” and not based in reality. The Tory MP told Niall Paterson: “The point about triggering the World Trade Organisation (WTO) issue now is not jumping off a cliff.
BREXIT negotiations have hit a fresh stalemate with the UK stalling on signing up to “pointless” further talks. Britain’s negotiating team are yet to agree to the timetable for new face -to-face rounds amid fears they would go in circles without movement from Brussels. Officials are concerned that talks ending in stalemate again would kill any the “new momentum” after Theresa May’s Florence speech and last week’s better than expected meeting of EU leaders. Despite promises to “speed up” the process after this month’s EU Council, a new wall has been hit over how many talks to have before the next meeting of EU leaders in mid-December. UK negotiators believe no further progress can be made at any such talks without our future trade agreement with the EU also being on the table.
Britain could save £2.7bn-a-year by leaving the EU by not having to pay huge tariffs when trading with countries around the world, according to a new study. Some of Britain’s biggest trading partners have not negotiated a trade deal with the EU, so Britain, as an EU member, has to pay tariffs when trading with them. Yes, these countries pay tariffs when exporting goods into the UK, but the EU takes most of this cash for itself. But this will stop when Britain finally leaves the Brussels bloc, and could see Britain pocket £2.7bn-a-year, according to a study by the Change Britain think tank.
Labour is leading a plot in the Lords that is expected to inflict an embarrassing defeat on Theresa May’s plans to eradicate the EU rights charter from domestic law after Brexit. In a sign of the party flexing its muscles in the upper chamber, The Independent understands that Labour – with support from the Liberal Democrats – will force the Government’s hand in a vote on a critical amendment on Monday. The anticipated defeat would be humiliating for Theresa May and the Brexit Secretary David Davis, who are planning to use the EU Withdrawal Bill – currently progressing through the Commons – to take Britain out of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights after the UK’s exit from the bloc in March 2019.
Labour and Liberal Democrat peers will move today to enshrine a series of EU rights in UK law, signalling their intent to ambush the government over Brexit legislation. Opposition peers are set to defeat Theresa May on an amendment to the Data Protection Bill that would write part of the EU’s charter of fundamental rights into the legislation. The prime minister has explicitly ruled out bringing the EU charter into UK law after Britain withdraws from the bloc, a decision that has brought criticism from Sir Keir Starmer, Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary. The EU Withdrawal Bill, which will formally enact Brexit, includes a clause that states: “The charter of fundamental rights is not part of domestic law on or after exit day.”
A Tory donor has blasted Remain-backing Cabinet minsters for being too soft on the EU in trade talks – comparing them to people with Stockholm syndrome. Conservative funders say Theresa May should walk away from Brexit negotiations rather than accept a bad deal from the bloc. Jeremy Hosking said some ministers sound so pro EU they appear like they suffer from Stockholm syndrome – when hostages bonds with their captors. The Vote Leave and Tory donor said Britain must be prepared to walk away if it looks as if the bloc is determined to ‘kick us in the teeth’ and give us a punishment deal.
THERESA MAY is under pressure from Tory donors to quit Brexit talks if the EU refuses to offer us a good deal – even though businesses are urging the PM to agree a transition as quickly as possible. Eurosceptic tycoons who fund the Conservatives said last night that Mrs May should start planning to leave the EU without a trade deal. They suggested that accepting a bad deal from Brussels bosses would harm Britain by forcing us to accept uneven trade terms. But Mrs May is set to be squeezed on both sides of the Brexit divide – as a top economics firm claimed business investment will collapse if the Government does not secure a transition deal with the EU within months.
PRESSURE on Theresa May to prepare to take Britain out of the European Union without a deal grew today. Senior donors to the Conservative Party said she must be ready for a no-deal Brexit rather than accept a bad and divisive settlement from Brussels. Lord (Michael) Farmer, a Tory peer and former party treasurer, said the “paltry offer” David Cameron secured from the EU before last year’s referendum helped secure the Brexit vote. “If another unsatisfactory and unfavourable deal is done with the EU negotiators, the divisive issue of Europe will not go away but smoulder on for another generation,” he said. Vote Leave and Tory donor Jeremy Hosking said: “The EU is stonewalling on the divorce bill, increasing intolerably the political pressure on Mrs May, and we still have no idea whether the trade deal will be beneficial to the UK, or whether they will kick us further in the teeth when we are down.”
The British government’s attempt to lobby individual EU leaders in the run-up to the recent crunch EU summit, where member states were to judge the progress of the negotiations, actively damaged Theresa May’s hopes of a better outcome, the Guardian has learned. A secret plan had been drawn up under which the EU leaders would have made the surprise and highly symbolic move of stating in their conclusions on the day of the European council meeting that they would take into account Britain’s positions as they announced their intention to scope out their ideas on a post-Brexit transition period and trading relationship. The act of the 27 leaders changing the draft conclusions, a copy of which had been widely leaked ahead of the summit and appeared fixed, would have given the prime minister a boost by suggesting that May’s address to them at a working dinner had been effective.
Catalonia’s deposed government is heading for a fresh showdown with the Spanish authorities today after Catalan ministers promised they would go to work on Monday morning despite being fired over the weekend by Madrid. A source close to Carles Puigdemont, the deposed president of Catalonia, told The Telegraph that Monday would be “a working day” for the administration, officially ousted under special powers triggered by Spain’s government. “The president of the country is and will continue to be Carles Puigdemont”, added Catalonia’s deposed vice president, Oriol Junqueras, in a newspaper article yesterday. As 300,000 demonstrators took to the streets of Barcelona on Sunday to reject the declaration of independence by a majority in Catalonia’s parliament, another of Mr Puigdemont’s regional officials stated his clear intention to stay in his post.
Spain takes over the running of Catalonia today and prosecutors will file charges of rebellion against the region’s sacked leader after hundreds of thousands of people in Barcelona demonstrated their loyalty to the government in Madrid. A judge will consider whether there is a case against Carles Puigdemont, the deposed Catalan president, and could order his arrest. The punishment for rebellion is a jail term of up to 30 years. Spain’s constitutional court is likely to rule swiftly on whether Friday’s declaration of independence by the Catalan parliament violated the 1978 constitution, which prohibits regions from unilaterally splitting from Spain.
An estimated crowd of more than 300,000 have taken to the streets of Barcelona in support of Madrid’s move to exert direct rule on Catalonia. The pro-unity supporters have declared themselves the “silent majority” of the region in contrast to previous demonstrations of celebration that greeted Friday’s disputed declaration of independence. Pro-unity supporters waved Spanish flags and carried balloons showing a heart-shaped unity between the flags of the nation, Catalonia and the EU. Others held banners suggesting those supporting the breakaway in the northwestern region were in the minority. The declaration of independence by the now-dissolved Catalonia parliament was sanctioned by a 70-10 vote in the 135-member chamber after the anti-separatist opposition walked out.
Tens of thousands who want Catalonia to remain part of Spain rallied in downtown Barcelona on Sunday, two days after a separatist majority in Catalonia’s parliament voted for the wealthy region to secede. Organizers say the march’s goal is to defend Spain’s unity and reject “an unprecedented attack in the history of democracy.” Leaders of rival pro-union parties from the ruling conservatives, the pro-business liberals and the socialists have joined together under the slogan “We are all Catalonia. Common sense for coexistence!” Grassroots group Societat Civil Catalan called for those who oppose Catalonia from breaking away to march at noon Sunday (1100 GMT; 7 a.m. EDT). Demonstrators, many waving Spanish, Catalan and European Union flags, flooded a central boulevard. The mood was festive and jubilant, with no incidents reported.
Hospitals are hiring soaring numbers of NHS managers while nurse and GP recruitment falls, a damning report reveals. In the past three years the number of managers employed in England has increased 11 per cent, while the number of nurses and midwives has risen by just 1.6 per cent, the Health Foundation think-tank found. But the increase in managers accelerated last year, with the total rising 4.3 per cent between April 2016 and April 2017 – as nursing numbers began to fall. Over those 12 months the number of nurses and health visitors dropped by 0.2 per cent, and community nurses by 2.9 per cent. And in the past three years the number of GPs fell 2.3 per cent, while the overall total for doctors rose by just 3 per cent – a far slower rate than for managers. Tory ministers have repeatedly pledged to cut back on ‘excessive bureaucracy’ in the health service.
Philip Hammond will only fund a pay rise for doctors and nurses if the NHS becomes more productive, Jeremy Hunt has suggested. The Health Secretary hinted the Chancellor had agreed to discuss a pay rise in parallel with looking at “the ways that we could improve productivity”. Mr Hunt’s comments came after he announced earlier this month that the one per cent cap on NHS pay would be scrapped. At the time, he did not say whether staff will get a pay rise to match inflation which hit a five year high of three per cent. Asked by the BBC’s Andrew Marr how much it would cost to give NHS staff a 3 per cent pay rise, he suggested a figure of about £1bn – “a serious amount of extra money”.
A million more patients could face waits of more than four hours in NHS A&E wards in England by 2019-20 in the absence of urgent action to address rising demand, the British Medical Association has said. Analysis by the doctors’ union, shared exclusively with the Guardian, projects that the number of people attending emergency wards and waiting more than four hours to be treated could reach 3.7 million in three years’ time, up from 2.6 million in the year ending September 2017. The forecast assumes numbers increase at the same rate as the average over the past five years and a “do-nothing scenario”, in which funding remains at its current level and the proposed measures to address pressures have little or no effect. If accurate, it would mean 84.8% of patients being seen within four hours between October 2019 and September 2020, down from 89% in 2016-17 and significantly short of the 95% target, which was effectively scrapped by Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, in January.
House of Lords
Two thirds of people now believe the Lords should be elected following a series of scandals, it can be revealed. Support for voters having a say in picking peers has surged by nearly a third since David Cameron was accused of packing the upper house with cronies. The polling comes ahead of a key report tomorrow when the Lords will set out plans for reform. A committee of peers is set to recommend that new appointments will be limited to 15 years in the Lords, but they are expected to duck making more radical changes such as introducing a compulsory retirement age. A survey of 1,500 adults found support for overhauling the second chamber has soared over the past two years, from 48 per cent backing a partially or fully-elected upper house in 2015, to 63 per cent now. More than a quarter (27 per cent) now think it should be abolished – up from 22 per cent in 2015. Only 10 per cent think it should remain as it is.
A peer who claimed £14,000 in expenses without speaking in the Lords for a year today moaned about having to turn up to Parliament ‘hang around’ waiting to vote. Ex-CBI chief Lord Jones sparked a storm of criticism after he was exposed as one of the peers who rarely bother turning up to the Lords chamber to speak or vote. And in an astonishing defence of his paltry voting record, he said he has more important things to do than to hang around the Lords all day. And he said that Lords and MPs often have no idea what they are voting on but just troop through the division lobbies on the order of their party whips. Challenged about his poor voting and speaking record, Lord Jones told the BBC’s Sunday Politics: ‘Have you ever been and listened to a debate in the Lords? ‘You will see how many people are in there…there are usually between eight and 14 out of 800.
BRITAIN will be frozen stiff in December and January with temperatures plummeting to a teeth-shattering -11C, forecasters say. Weather experts are predicting this winter could be the coldest in five years with freezing Arctic winds causing widespread snow and ice resulting in travel chaos. And the “big freeze” could start as soon as Monday with temperatures falling to -4C overnight. All areas of the county could be affected, including the South of England, making it the coldest winter since 2012/13. That winter, temperatures dropped to -14C causing roads and railways to freeze over resulting in hundreds of deaths. The Weather Company chief meteorologist Todd Crawford said: “We expect the coldest winter in the UK since 2012-13. “We expect extended spells with a ridge of pressure in the North Atlantic, especially in early winter. “This forces the jet stream up to the Arctic and back down into Europe, releasing Arctic high pressure from near the Pole directly into northern Europe, with colder-than-normal temperatures.”