Belfast Telegraph

George Osborne's statement is great news for Northern Ireland home buyers and holidaymakers

By Clare Weir

Homebuyers and holidaymakers in Northern Ireland will be some of the biggest beneficiaries of the announcements made in the Autumn Statement this week, say experts.

Chancellor George Osborne said that new reforms to stamp duty will help "98% of homebuyers" by abolishing the "slab" basis, by which the percentage paid applies to purchase price band.

Office for National Statistics data shows that house price annual inflation was at 12.5% in England, 5.8% in Wales, 7.6% in Scotland and 10.9% in Northern Ireland.

The regional breakdown for September 2014 showed that the average property price stood at £143,000 in Northern Ireland.

Rob Heron, EY tax partner, said that with the average house price in Northern Ireland standing at less than £150,000, the overhaul of stamp duty will mean a welcome saving of more than £1,000 for the average residential property purchase.

"The new marginal rates will work in the opposite direction for very high value properties however this should have much less of an impact in Northern Ireland." he said.

"The complete overhaul of stamp duty land tax and moving away from the distortive "slab system" means that more than 99% of home buyers in Northern Ireland would have paid less or the same stamp duty land tax based on 2013-14 figures.

"A saving of over £1,000 is a real boost for first-time buyers saving for deposits or current homeowners considering a move".

Meanwhile, both of Northern Ireland's airports have welcomed the news that Air Passenger Duty, or APD will be scrapped for children under 12 from next May and for the under 16s in 2016. The tax on departing flights, which ranges from £13 per passenger for short-haul flights to £97 for the longest flights departing from the UK, has meant that many holidaymakers choose to fly from Dublin instead.

Brian Ambrose, chief executive of George Best Belfast City Airport said that thanks to the move, 2015 looks set to deliver double-digit growth for the facility with further planned investment in our facilities

Belfast International Airport boss Graham Keddie said that APD was a "regressive" tax that blocked growth in tourism.

Belfast Telegraph