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Stamp Duty

Benefits of the recently extended Stamp Duty holiday

On Wednesday 3rd March the Chancellor announced an extension of the Stamp Duty holiday to the 30th of June.

How will this extension benefit you?

Benefit from substantial savings – In England and Northern Ireland, if you are considering moving home and complete by June 30th, you can benefit from the biggest cuts in property purchase tax on properties up to the price of £500,000. In Scotland, the holiday comes to an end at the end of this month but those in Wales will benefit from the tax cut on properties up to the price of £250,000.

Zoopla data indicates that at least 740,000 buyers will have benefited from the Stamp Duty holiday by the time it ends across the UK.

Stamp Duty

Getting the purchase completed

For those in Scotland there is little time left to take advantage of the scheme, but for the rest of those moving home, the extension to the tax holiday will allow more time for property purchases to reach completion. Without the extension, thousands of deals may have fallen through because buyers may have been forced to find extra savings to meet an increased tax bill.

Buyers have benefited by making substantial tax savings. The biggest cuts are on offer to those in England and Northern Ireland. Spending £500,000 or more on a new home or buy to let investment, you could save up to the maximum in tax of £15,000.

Whilst the Stamp Duty holiday has resulted in greater demand it has also led to higher house prices. Figures from the Land Registry show an 8.5% year-on-year rise in December, defying predictions earlier, in the year that the pandemic would create a reduction in the cost of a home.

Spring Clean

Making the most of your home this spring.

Spring is fast approaching but many of us across the UK may still be spending a lot of time at home. With this in mind, it’s the ideal opportunity to make the most of it. 

A thorough spring clean is what we all need to keep our households in good health in the current climate.

While cleaning is obviously a significant part of your spring clean, this is also a great opportunity to declutter and organise your space too.  

Even if you can’t commit to downsizing your belongings, just rearranging what you already have in your home, from clothing to decor, can make a world of difference. After going through lockdown, decluttering will help you to feel like you’ve not been staring at the same indoor scenery for months on end. 

Spring Clean

Why is it a good time to start spring cleaning?

As lockdown begins to lift and we start to ease into a new ‘normal’, staying healthy and looking after our immune systems should be top of the list.

Regularly cleaning shared surfaces like bathrooms and kitchen counters can help you minimise the spread of viruses and bacteria and promote a healthy immune system. By deep cleaning your spaces for dust, dirt, pet dander and more, you can help your respiratory wellness by preventing common allergy triggers too.

Struggle with motivation?

Starting a deep clean can feel overwhelming, but rest assured you don’t have to clean absolutely everything. Give your home a once over and figure out what needs some intensive attention – pick the most important items. 

Studies have shown that decluttering your spaces can give your mood a major boost and, if this year has left your brain feeling a little scattered, it can also help you to focus.

Here are a few ways you can make spring cleaning more enjoyable:

Spend some time in the garden and clean outside your home to enjoy the sun – With the sun shining for a bit longer every day, think about the outside of your home, can you give it a freshen up? Consider jet washing the patio, cleaning the windows and scrubbing the barbecue, this will prepare your garden for when summer weather makes an appearance!   

Give your wardrobe some TLC – spring clean your wardrobe

Put all items to one side that you haven’t worn for more than a year or that you no longer want to keep. Bag up those that are still in good nick and take them to a charity shop as soon as they reopen.  Place clothes that cannot be given to charity in another bag and consider taking them to a recycling centre.

Reward yourself – If you have put together a list of things you need to do, tick off the list as you go and congratulate yourself for welcoming spring by giving your household the ultimate gift of a spick and span living space – with ample room to hopefully entertain and enjoy the warmer weather!

Sunak-2021-Budget

Budget 2021 UK Government Announcement

Budget 2021 UK Government Announcement

As your mortgage adviser, we thought it may be of interest to see the latest announcements made as part of the UK Government Budget 2021, announced today by Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

New Mortgage Guarantee scheme

A new mortgage guarantee scheme will enable all UK homebuyers to secure a mortgage up to £600,000 with a 5% deposit.  This provides many with the opportunity to buy a home without a large deposit. The 95% mortgages will be available from a wide range of lenders and High Street Banks including Lloyds, NatWest, Santander, Barclays and HSBC.

Sunak-2021-Budget

Extension to the cut in Stamp Duty

The temporary cut in Stamp Duty Land Tax for the housing market in England and Northern Ireland remains until September 2021 – the current limit of £500k remains in place till the end of June, followed by a reduction in the allowance to £250k for the final three months.

Financial Support for the Self-Employed

Grants are being made available for the self-employed, to claim up to 80% of three-month trading profits up to a value of £7.5k. A further grant is to follow later this year.

Covid-19 Response

An extra £1.65 billion is being invested to roll out vaccinations across the UK, alongside studying the effectiveness of a third dose of vaccine to improve response rates against future variants.

Extension of the Government Furlough Scheme

The Government Furlough scheme is being extended until September 2021. Under the scheme, the government pays furloughed employees 80 per cent of their wages, up to £2,500 a month. Employers must pay 10 per cent of these wages in July and 20 per cent in August and September.

Hospitality & Leisure Industry Support

£5 billion has been set aside for Restart Grants for businesses in the hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gym industries in England, and a new UK-wide Recovery Loan Scheme set up to give loans to businesses to help them through the next stage of recovery, upto a value of £10m.

The 5% rate of Value Added Tax (VAT) for hospitality, accommodation and attractions is being extended until 30 September 2021.

Investment is taking place in sport, with £25m pledged towards growing grassroots sport in the UK, and £2.8m set aside to support the UK & Ireland bid to host the 2030 football World Cup. 

Taxation Updates

Income tax personal allowances will be maintained from April 2022 to April 2026, however Corporation Tax will increase to 25%, from 2023 onwards. Larger businesses will be taxed higher, with those reporting profits greater than £250k a year facing the largest rises.

Fuel duty and alcohol duty will also be frozen again for this year too.

Talk to us

We hope that you find these announcements of interest, and please do let us know if you have any queries around your existing mortgage or are interested in talking further about new opportunities arising from today’s announcement on the new mortgage guarantee programme.

The above details are extracted from the UK Government website and correct as of 3 March 2021. Further detail can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/budget-2021.

Macaroni Cheese & Smoky Bacon

Preparation time
less than 30 mins
 
Cooking time
30 mins to 1 hour
 
Serves
Serves 6-8
 
Ingredients 
100gButter – plus extra for greasing
100gPlain Flour
1 Heaped tspDijon mustard
1.2 LitresWhole milk
5 tbspDouble cream
1Bay Leaf
400gGrated mature Cheddar
20 turnsBlack peppermill
8 RaspsFreshly grated nutmeg
500gDried macaroni
100gSmoked bacon lardons or smoked pancetta cubes
60gWhite breadcrumbs
50gParmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp (per 600ml water)  Salt

Step 1

Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6 and grease a 35x20cm/14x8in ovenproof dish. Melt the butter in a large saucepan, stir in the plain flour and cook for a minute. 

Step 2

Add the mustard, then take the pan off the heat and gradually whisk in the milk and cream.

Step 3

Add the bay leaf, put the pan back on the heat and cook the sauce, stirring constantly, until it boils and is thick and bubbling.

Step 4

Take the pan off the heat again, remove the bay leaf and add the Cheddar, then keep stirring until the cheese has melted. Season with black pepper and nutmeg.

Step 5

Boil the macaroni in a large pan of salted boiling water (with a ratio of 1 teaspoon of salt per 600ml of water) for about 10 minutes or until al dente, then drain well.

Step 6

Fry the bacon in a frying pan until crisp. Stir into the macaroni cheese and pour the mixture into the ovenproof dish.

Step 7

Mix the breadcrumbs with the Parmesan and scatter them over the top. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and bubbling. Serve immediately.

Minister announces funding boost for businesses to employ young people

Employers can apply for a £1,000 cash boost to help young people gain the skills and experience they need to kickstart their career.

The deadline to apply for the funding is [on] 31st July 2021.

The new scheme will give businesses a financial boost to implement a high-quality work placement for young people – firms may wish to use the funds on facilities, uniforms or travel costs.

The announcement of the new funding scheme comes after the Chancellor’s announcement in July.  As part of his plan for jobs the additional £111 million investment will support the largest ever expansion of traineeships, meaning more young people will gain the skills and confidence they need to start their career.

Rishi Sunak said, “My number one priority is to support, protect and create jobs, which is why for the first time ever we’re giving businesses £1,000 to cover the cost of trainee work experience, because we know that traineeships are a proven way to give young people the skills and opportunity they need to be ready for work.”

Companies that offer new traineeship opportunities will receive the £1,000 bonus for every trainee they take on, with up to a maximum of 10 trainees. Firms can claim the cash incentive for all work placements that have been completed since 1st September 2020.

Apprenticeships and Skills Minister, Gillian Keegan, said, “We’re pulling out all the stops to help young people get the skills and confidence they need to progress. This cash boost will help employers of all sizes provide more traineeship opportunities, to invest in their workforce so they can rebuild and grow, giving young people a vital route to start their apprenticeship journey, get their first job, or go on to further study.”

The traineeship lasts between 6 weeks and 12 months and will focus on developing vital employability skills, as well as additional English, maths and digital skills, coupled with a work placement lasting a minimum of 70 hours.

The new programme will play a significant part in building back from the pandemic as it will support businesses to create and fill more jobs. Recent figures revealed that 66% of trainees end the programme with a job, take up apprenticeships, or go into further study.

For 16-24-year-olds on universal credit and at risk of long term unemployment, the Government also provides the Kickstart Scheme which grants funding to create new job placements. Employers of all sizes can apply for this funding. Further funding is also available under this scheme, helping to enable young people to get a job in the future.

If you would like to apply for the £1,000 funding boost and find our more information, click here.

If you’d like to know more about the Kickstart Scheme, you can read more about it here.

Moving home safely during a pandemic.

If you are close to getting the keys to your new home and expect to get moving very soon, here is a short guide on how you can keep yourself safe while moving during a pandemic.

Before we start, it’s important to remember the three key rules:

Hands – wash your hands with soap, regularly, and for at least 20 seconds.

Face – Be sure to cover your nose and mouth, especially when in an enclosed space with people you don’t usually meet with, and where social distancing is difficult.

Space – keep two metres apart as much as possible.

When to put the plans on pause – if you or anyone in your household is experiencing any flu symptoms or tested positive for coronavirus, you must pause your plans to relocate until you’re better. 

Viewing properties safely 

Consider a virtual viewing, if it’s an option. The good thing about virtual viewings is it will reduce the number of face-to-face viewings agents do and minimises the spread of germs.

Virtual viewings are also a great time-saver, it will give you a better idea of whether a house is worth seeing or not.

If you have seen a property you like and you’re keen to do a viewing in person, you should get in touch with the estate agent to book an appointment. During your visit be sure to wear a face mask, avoid touching surfaces, and wash your hands or use sanitiser before and after.

Remember: There shouldn’t be any more than two households within the property at any one time, and viewings should only be arranged by appointment, so ‘open houses’ shouldn’t be happening right now.

How to keep safe when selling your own home.

It is recommended that you’re not in the property during the viewing. 

When interested buyers have arranged to view your home, be sure to open all the inside doors beforehand, this will prevent them from touching the door handles. You can also have some hand sanitiser available to them in case they forget theirs.

After the buyers leave, we recommend disinfecting all surfaces.

How to stay safe during moving day.

Removal firms can still carry out work, assuming all the usual safety procedures are in place.

When packing, aim to do most of it yourself, if you can. Give your belongings a quick spray or wipe-down with a disinfectant before they are handled by someone else.

If you are using a removal company, do your best to maintain distance from the team and wash your hands regularly.

If you’d like to read more on how to move home safely under the current guidelines, you can find more information here.

2021 – 2023 Help to Buy Equity Loan Scheme

As a first-time buyer, searching for a newly built home, you may need a financial boost. With the government’s Help to Buy: Equity Loan scheme, buying your own home could become a dream come true.

The new scheme will enable first-time buyers to borrow a minimum of 5% and up to 20% (or up to 40% in London) of the market value of a newly built home. The amount you can spend on the home depends on where in England you buy it.

Who is eligible?

  • To take advantage of the scheme, you must be a first-time buyer.
  • You must not own a home or residential land now or in the past – in either the UK or abroad.
  • You should not have had any form of sharia mortgage.

 

How does it work?

When purchasing a home with the Equity Loan scheme you will not pay interest on the equity loan for the first 5 years. You will pay interest in year 6, this will be on the equity loan amount you borrowed.

At the exchange of contracts, you will be required to pay a deposit, this is 5% of the purchase price.

You can repay all or part of your equity loan at any time. A part-payment must be at least 10% of what your home is worth at the time of repayment.

Is the scheme right for me?

If you already have a large deposit and can get a mortgage without the use of the Help to Buy scheme, you may not need to benefit from the financial boost.

If you are unsure, contact us using the form below. We are here to help and answer any questions you may have.

If you would like to know more about the scheme click here

How to apply:

First-time buyers who are eligible for Help to Buy: Equity Loan (2021-2023) can apply now with a homebuilder registered for the scheme.

Apply with a Help to Buy agent, in England, within the area where you would like to live.

Find your local Help to Buy agent here.

5 Ways to ease loneliness during the winter lockdown

While we are still living in lockdown and not knowing when the restrictions will ease, there are millions of people across the UK and beyond who have spent the first four weeks of 2021 alone.

The good news is that the rollout of vaccines appears to offer a light at the end of the tunnel.

If you or someone you know might be experiencing loneliness, here are 5 ways you can lift yourself and others up during these unsettling times.

Become a befriender

Everyone needs other people, but not everyone has someone. Making friends and having a natter with someone new may put a smile on your face and hopefully theirs as well. 

Telephone befriending service ‘The Silver Line’ operates in the UK and helps to connect those who are elderly and experiencing loneliness with those who are willing to volunteer their time for a friendly chat. Recruits are needed now, more than ever. If you are willing to volunteer for as little as half an hour a week, click here to get involved.

If you would like to become a befriender and dedicate more of your time to support those who might be struggling throughout lockdown, you can read more information about the service and how it can help, on the Befriending Networks website here.

Talk and walk

Taking a walk with someone can help tackle loneliness. With the current lockdown rules, you are able to walk with one other person from one other household in your local area.

Exercise can lift your mood and help take your mind off things, so try walking, cycling or running outdoors if you can – or make an indoor class part of your daily routine.

Connecting with colleagues

Many of us may be working from home and sometimes that can get quite lonely when there is no one around to discuss challenges and new ideas. If you are feeling disconnected from your team, why not suggest a virtual workshop? Jess Shaw, the founder of PACT Creative, has put together team building online sessions via video conference. It’s a fun way to connect with your colleagues, let off some steam and create some office banter.

Do more of the things that make you happy

During a lockdown, it’s hard to do things we enjoy because we are tied to our homes. When you’re at home, entertaining radio shows or podcasts are a good way to occupy your mind and keep you company. Joining an online book club and listening to audiobooks can also help to keep you occupied. There are also lots of comedy clubs online, so search for something that will make you laugh.

Learn something new

If you want to do something that gets you thinking about other things, why not try learning a new language? There are many online courses, from beginners through to advanced classes. If you are looking to enhance your work skills or learn a new skill, there are plenty of free online professional courses out there.

Another option to consider is taking up a new hobby.  If you enjoy learning with others, you could join an online class for arts and crafts, cookery, DIY or gardening.

Nonetheless, the next few months will be tough and will exacerbate feelings of loneliness and isolation. There are many ways we can connect with each other during these unprecedented times. From volunteering for a charity to picking up a new hobby, these are just a few of the things you can do to help yourself and others combat loneliness this winter.

Your Winter Recipe: Beef & Vegetable Casserole

Beef & Vegetable Casserole

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 3 hrs – 3 hrs and 50 mins
Serves: 5
Requires: large capacity flameproof casserole dish

2 celery sticks, thickly sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 big carrots, halved lengthways then chunkily sliced
5 bay leaves
2 thyme sprigs, 1 whole and 1 with leaves picked
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp tomato purée
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 beef stock cubes, crumbled
850g stewing beef (featherblade or brisket works nicely) cut into nice large chunks
600ml water

Make the most of winter with this warming beef and vegetable casserole.

Method

STEP 1:

Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3 and put the kettle on.

STEP 2:

Gently heat the vegetable oil & butter in the flameproof casserole dish, then add the prepared onion, celery, carrot, bay leaves and whole thyme sprig. 

STEP 3:

Soften for 10 mins on a low gas, then stir in the plain flour until it doesn’t look dusty anymore, followed by the tomato purée, Worcestershire sauce and crumbled beef stock cubes.

STEP 4:

Gradually stir in the hot water, then add the stewing beef and bring to a gentle simmer.

STEP 5:

Cover and put in the oven for 2hrs 30 mins, then uncover and cook for 30 minutes to one hour or more, until the meat is really tender and the sauce is thickened.

STEP 6:

Garnish with the picked leaves of the remaining thyme sprig.

 

Three things to consider before buying or selling properties in 2021

If you're considering selling your home in 2021, here are a few things to consider.

Expect delays

According to Rightmove, there are currently 613,000 properties trying to reach completion. Their latest data revealed that it’s taking 126 days from the time an offer is accepted until legal completion – just over four months to complete the selling process. If you are keen to sell your home this year, be aware that you may experience delays.

While it may take a while, the process will depend on a few things. For example, if you’re a cash buyer you may be able to move more quickly, however, if you are in a chain, the local searches may take longer than usual.

.

Stamp Duty Savings

Rightmove estimates that around a million sales currently going through, will miss out on the stamp duty savings. If you are in the process of selling your home and feel you or your buyer may be purchasing a property in the hope to save on stamp duty, speak to your estate agent as soon as possible and seek advice – you may be able to avoid the purchase falling through by renegotiating the price. 

The temporary stamp duty holiday that started on 8th July 2020 is due to end on 31st March 2021. With this in mind, Rightmove recommend that you should not factor in stamp duty savings from the temporary holiday – this will be more beneficial to first-time buyers who are buying a property for no more than £300,000.

The Current Market

Buyer activity has increased since the first lockdown back in 2020, many have reconsidered their housing priorities as the market has remained open during the current lockdown. Rightmove believes there are signs we are surpassing 2020’s new year surge activity.

Research from the online property portal reveals that the number of prospective buyers contacting agents between 2nd and 12th January 2021 was up by 12% and sales agreed numbers were up by 9% on the comparable period last year.

Visits to the Rightmove website have also continued to increase since the start of January and are up by 33% from the same period in 2020.

Resident property data expert, Tim Bannister, explained that the housing market is experiencing a processing logjam, with some homemovers likely to miss out on their stamp duty savings.

He said, “As we enter the new year and a new lockdown, the housing market remains open but is focused on the imminent end of the stamp duty holiday and on the challenges of the pandemic.”

Matthew Smith, Sales and Lettings Director at Thornley Groves in Manchester, said, “Many people have outgrown their homes and, with more people now working from home and undertaking home schooling, it has really focused their attention on getting their properties ready to sell.”

If you are considering moving home or you are close to remortgaging your home, get in touch with us using the form below and we can discuss your options. 

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