Theresa May has unveiled plans for a new levy to be paid by those buying British homes from abroad as part of a wider bid to tackle Britain’s housing crisis.
The Prime Minister kicked off the Tory conference today by insisting it should not be “as easy” for foreign investors to pick off the UK’s housing stock as those who live and work there.
The rise of up to 3% in stamp duty will be paid by individuals and companies not paying tax in the UK, with the cash raised to go towards boosting the government’s rough sleeping strategy.
The PM will reignite her pledge for a “British dream” with a series of policy announcements that will try to divert focus away from heightened party splits on Brexit.
“At Conservative conference last year, I said I would dedicate my premiership to restoring the British Dream, that life should be better for each new generation, and that means fixing our broken housing market,” she said ahead of the four-day event in Birmingham.
“Britain will always be open to people who want to live, work and build a life here.
“But it cannot be right that it is as easy for individuals who don’t live in the UK, as well as foreign based companies, to buy homes as hard working British residents.”
“For too many people the dream of home ownership has become all too distant and the indignity of rough sleeping remains all too real.”
A Tory spokesperson said the rise in stamp duty, which will apply on top of existing rates, will “help make UK homes more affordable for British residents and those paying taxes in the country as they build a new life here”.
Meanwhile the PM has unveiled plans for a festival to take place in 2022 that will celebrate the country’s culture, sports and innovation.
The move to celebrate the “precious union” of the UK – known as The Festival – is expected to echo the Great Exhibition of 1851 and the 1951 Festival of Britain.
Ministers have so far earmarked £120m for he proposal.
The event will come just months ahead of the next scheduled general election and will coincide with the year of the Queen’s platinum jubilee and the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
Mrs May said: “Almost 70 years ago the Festival of Britain stood as a symbol of change. Britain once again stands on the cusp of a new future as an outward facing global trading nation.
“And, just as millions of Britons celebrated their nation’s great achievements in 1951, we want to showcase what makes our country great today.
“We want to capture that spirit for a new generation, celebrate our nation’s diversity and talent and mark this moment of national renewal with a once-in-a-generation celebration.”
Mrs May’s plans came alongside a call for warring MPs to stop “playing politics” and back Chequers.
In an interview with The Sunday Times ahead of the conference, the PM took a swing at senior figures such as Boris Johnson – who launched a fresh attack on Mrs May as Tory conference got underway – by calling on them to back the “only proposal on the table at the moment”.
“My message to the Conservative Party is going to be that people voted to leave the EU. I believe it’s a matter of trust in politicians that we deliver on that vote for people,” she said.
“We’re the party that always puts country first and puts the national interest first. And that’s what I want us to be doing.
“The only proposal on the table at the moment that delivers that is the Chequers plan.”
Source: Politics Home