Last week the government confirmed that it would be moving forward with its proposal to tax non-resident home buyers an extra 2% in Stamp Duty to purchase property in England and Northern Ireland.
Immediately afterwards, one of London’s best-known prime property agents – who will be hit hardest by the new additional levy – called the measure ‘daft’.
We sat down with Trevor Abrahmsohn of Glentree Estates to find out why he is so irate about the new levy and ask him some challenging questions.
Who cares about a few hundred ultra-wealthy buyers having to shoulder a bit more tax?
“The intrinsic relationship between the buoyancy of the housing market, retail spending and the growth of the economy is irrefutable – why would you do anything to slow things down,” he says.
“In the post-Brexit era anything that promotes an increase in investment has to be good.”
“We have to change the conversation from the sort of soft left-wing idea that these high net worth individual are all coming to steal our property.”
What is the government supposed to do instead?
“Concentrate on increasing the supply of properties – which the Tories are trying to do via their planning reforms – but they should go further and radically reform it; planning decisions are too mired in politics,” he says.
“If they could do that then we all won’t be so precious about foreign people buying property in this country and ‘taking homes from the locals’.
Where else are these foreigners going to go?
“The idea of putting up barriers has to be reversed,” he says.
“The ‘non-dom’ and other changes including this Stamp Duty rise may score points morally, but we’re losing these wealthy investors and wealth creators to countries like Portugal and Italy and their ‘golden visa’ schemes.”
Isn’t it ironic that a Tory government is doing this?
“I think it’s part of the strategy to look after the ‘red wall’ and even up the country – they must be seen to be punishing the ‘favourite son’ capital or at least not giving it special treatment.
“But it exasperates me that subsequently we are suddenly ashamed that London is the greatest city in the world and that produces so much of our GDP.
“I think it’s all about symbolism – London has become resented by people in the North and so the Tories have to ignore if not punish it to garner favour with the new formerly Labour voters.”