Why Sunak should put an end to England's stamp duty holiday romance | David Mitchell

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The tax break on house purchases saw prices rise by 8.5% – but is it really the best way to address the housing shortage?

Reports last week that the stamp duty holiday in England and Northern Ireland is to be extended were met with unsurprisingly little consternation, surprisingly. I mean that I wasn’t surprised by the lack of consternation which, on reflection, was surprising. Can you be surprised on reflection, or just by a reflection because you haven’t had a haircut since October? I think you can. It was a gradual, creeping surprise that stole through me gingerly, like a presentiment of diarrhoea.

People don’t like stamp duty, because it makes the surreal sums involved in procuring shelter significantly more eye-watering. Still, isn’t it a bit nuts, when you think about it, extending the stamp duty holiday? The country isn’t made of money. Except it sort of is made of money because the property here is worth so much. Particularly in the south-east, but in Britain generally, houses cost too much. And, thanks to the stamp duty holiday, UK prices rose last year by 8.5%. That’s while most of the economy was somewhere on a scale from lightly to totally screwed.

I, like all loyal Britons, swell with pride that our property market has become the repository of choice for Russian oligarchs’ ill-gotten wealth

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