The headlines from today’s budget relate to the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) relief which has been announced in relation to first-time buyers. However, there were a number of changes affecting the legal world contained in the government’s plans for taxation and spending in the coming months.
In employment law, the Chancellor confirmed that the national living wage, payable to workers over 25, will rise from £7.50 per hour to £7.83. The tax-free personal allowance for income tax will rise from £11,500 to £11,850 and the higher rate income tax threshold will increase from £45,001 to £46,350. These changes will take effect in April 2018.
In conveyancing, SDLT will no longer be payable by first-time buyers, provided the property they are buying is worth up to £300,000. This will mean a saving of up to £5,000 tax. In London and other areas where property prices are higher, the first £300,000 will not attract stamp duty if the property is worth up to £500,000. There was good news for developers, in measures to boost house building, with a target of building 300,000 new homes a year by 2025.
Generally, the government has committed to reduce the Ministry of Justice’s budget by £600m by 2019/20. The Law Society have reiterated their concerns in this regard due to the limitations it will likely mean to access to justice.
Last but not least, an additional £3bn ‘Brexit fund’ is being set aside as preparations continue for the UK leaving the European Union.