EDITOR'S LETTERJohn Stepek
Osborne’s vote-winner: stamp duty changes
If you want to win the heart of the average British voter, it helps if house prices are going up. It’s the one measure of economic prosperity that almost every homeowner genuinely cares about or understands.
Politicians realise this only too well – for example, the best line of attack the Tories could come up with in the recent Rochester by-election was to warn that a win for Ukip would hit house prices in the region. The Tories still didn’t win – but it might conceivably have reduced the Ukip majority.
In the old days, juicing prices ahead of an important vote used to be easy – the chancellor had control of interest rates and so could give them a little tweak before the election rolled around and hopefully get a boost from falling mortgage rates and rising prices.
Nowadays, of course, the central bank has its nominally independent hand on the tiller. And in any case, interest rates have been at near-zero levels for years.
So it’s trickier – you have to get a bit more creative. But Chancellor George Osborne looks like he managed to pull it off in his latest Autumn Statement. The headline-grabber was the change in the way stamp duty is levied.
• Read the full editor’s letter here: Osborne’s vote-winner: stamp duty changes