IN THE recent budget, Conservative Chancellor Phillip Hammond announced the abolition of Stamp Duty on all homes valued up to £300,000 for first time buyers in a bid to “make the dream of homeownership a reality again”.

This is a welcome move to help those who are struggling to pay the fees associated with first purchasing a home, especially in Monmouthshire where house prices are considerably higher than in the rest of Wales.

It is therefore sad to see that at the moment this tax cut will only happen in Wales for four months unless the Welsh Government does something about it. This is because from April onwards, Wales will no longer be subject to stamp duty but rather the Welsh Government’s new tax the Land Transaction Tax.

Whilst being very similar to stamp duty, it is the Welsh Government who will determine the rate of the tax. So far, despite my questioning of both the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the First Minister, they have yet to say they will match England’s policy to help first time buyers.

I worry that this will cause two situations which we would rather avoid. First, there could be a rush to purchase in areas of our region where this stamp duty cut will have the most effect. Rushing in to buying property is rarely advisable, but this is what the Welsh Government may be promoting.

Second, given how difficult many first time buyers find it to get onto the property ladder, any help is welcome. If England is offering a level of help and assistance which doesn’t exist in Wales, some of our young first time buyers may look across the border to live.

We want more of our young people to stay in Wales. Already, many move away and we should not have a tax system that gives them another reason to do so.

The Welsh Government has only a limited amount of time to address this issue. I will continue to push in the Assembly for the Welsh Government to match the commitment England has made to its first time buyers. I fear it may fall short of this. If so, some young people in our region, particularly in more expensive areas close to England such as Monmouthshire, may sadly look to England as a more financially feasible place to buy their first home.