Coalition needs to do more to kick-start ailing property sector

Marion Dakers
BRITAIN’S planning and property tax laws should be ripped up and banks should be forced to offer more mortgages in order to boost the country’s moribund real estate market, the country’s largest property services group argued yesterday.

The number of house sales remains near historic lows, with figures from LSL suggesting June was the second worst month by volume since 1995, when Land Registry records were digitised.

Countrywide said yesterday the ongoing overhaul of planning laws alongside a raft of other measures is sorely needed to kick-start the construction and property sectors.

The firm also wants banks that receive money from the government’s direct lending scheme to be forced to lend out more in mortgages.

“More appropriate credit is urgently required in the housing market, but lending volumes for house purchases are only one third of what they were five years ago,” said chief executive Grenville Turner.

Previous government initiatives to get banks to pass on improved rates to retail customers, including Project Merlin, have fallen short of expectations.

Countrywide also suggested yesterday removing “outdated and prohibitive” stamp duty on properties worth less than £250,000, which it said would remove barriers to entry for first-time buyers while having only “a small impact on tax receipts”. It also called for a housing policy that, by stabilising supply, reduces house price volatility.