There seems no end to the new Chancellor’s handouts! Could these handouts be made to work harder to encourage the economy and also to help meet the CO2 targets.  Our politicians seem to have continued the cycle of raising taxes then lowering them as the election gets closer.  They very rarely put forward radical policy changes that fundamentally make our lives more pleasant and the country a better place to live in the long run. The latest “mini-budget” was no different, apart from this one appears to have scared the bejesus out of our financial markets and institutions.

This got me pondering what I would do if I were in charge, particularly as regards the property sector.  The UK has some of the worst aging housing in terms of energy efficiency and we are currently sinking deep into an energy crisis with no light at the end of the tunnel.  With 25% to 40% of our country’s CO2 emissions coming from the built environment, the possibility of meeting the government’s net zero target is almost zero unless we do something drastic quickly.  I am not a fan of SDLT as let’s be honest; Stamp Duty is the Imodium to social mobility; it would be harder to create a policy that does more to stop fluidity in the property sector.

For now, this slightly unfair tax is here to stay so how can we use it for the greater good of society and the country as a whole? My proposal is relatively simple, when you purchase a house, you pay your stamp duty as per the current status quo. The stamp duty would then become a credit against the property, to be applied as a rebate for any work done that will improve the eco-friendly credentials of the house.

For example: double glazing, insulation or heat pumps.  This would encourage the owner of any property, landlord or private owner, to get on with the work of improving their property using the rebate on the stamp duty.   Asking someone to spend £10k on a heat pump is a big ask.  Asking them to do it for a tax rebate puts a much more appealing spin on the outlay.

The result would be a property sector fit for the 21st century and a massive reduction in the amount in the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, taking us one step closer to net zero. In addition to the environmental benefit, a policy like this would encourage growth especially within the built environment. There would be a massive uptick in demand for eco consultants, producers, manufacturing and builders etc. Of course the government would have to be willing to forfeit their gains from the current stamp duty levy but in return they will increase their takes in corporation tax and VAT.  If we are truly going to kickstart the green revolution in this country, we need bold decisions and policy.  I believe if the government were to implement this policy it would transform our housing stock within a generation.