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'Stamp duty must change'

Nearly three quarters of Britons want to see stamp duty reformed, according to GE Money Home Lending.With only one day to go until Chancellor Gordon Brown's eleventh budget speech, GE Money's research reveals that 71 per cent of people think stamp duty prices need to be changed to keep in line with soaring property inflation rates.Yet the nation seems divided as to what changes should actually be made, and to what extent first-time buyers (FTBs) should be helped to get a foot on the property ladder.Over 60 per cent agreed that Mr Brown should help FTBs by increasing the exclusion band for stamp duty.Experts claim that this is not necessarily unselfish, as a plentiful supply of FTBs will help to sustain prices further up the chain.However, 38 per cent thought that FTBs should receive no special treatment when buying a home - being of the opinion that they coped when they first bought their first home and FTBs in today's market should do the same."As Gordon Brown prepares to deliver his budget, it is clear that the vast majority of consumers feel that current stamp duty bands do not work and that something needs to be done," Duncan Berry, director of mortgage sales at GE Money Home Lending said."What is also interesting is the polarised levels of empathy consumers have when it comes to the plight of first time buyers," he added."It is important that lenders continue to understand the difficulties faced by this group, developing new and innovative ways of helping them to get onto the housing ladder."The survey also revealed that half of UK mortgage brokers would also like to see an increase in stamp duty exclusion band in line with the average national house price.If implemented, this would take the exclusion band from £125,000 to just over £200,000 - an increase of more than £75,000 - saving a buyer over £2,000.

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