Brokers back Tory economic plans

Over 5,000 small business owners, including at least 11 mortgage brokers, 18 financial advisers and Stuart Law, founder and chief executive of property investment firm Assetz, signed the letter which praised Tory plans to tackle the public deficit.

The letter said: “We would like to see David Cameron and George Osborne given the chance to finish what they have started. A change now would be far too risky and would undo all the good work of the last five years.”

The unsolicited show of support for a Conservative government came as Labour leader Ed Miliband revealed plans to exempt first-time buyers from paying stamp duty on homes bought in England and Wales for less than £300,000 for three years and promised to start building 1 million new homes by 2020.

Earlier today in a speech at Stockton, Teeside, Miliband said: "There's nothing more British than the dream of home ownership, but for so many people in our country that dream is fading.

"It's the right thing to do to enable people to get back on the housing ladder and that's what a Labour government will do."

The party claimed the £225m stamp duty pledge would be funded through tighter controls on landlords who avoid tax, a cut in tax relief for landlords who fail to maintain properties and rising tax for foreign property investors.

David Hollingworth, head of communications at Bath-based London and Country Mortgages, said: “Questions will continue to focus on whether this will only serve to stoke demand when supply has been neglected for so long. That is similar to criticism that the Conservative right-to-buy extension has encountered.

“All parties are of course saying that they will also radically boost the amount of new homes. That all takes time to filter through whilst popular incentives like stamp duty could kick in much more quickly.”

Labour said yesterday it would introduce inflation-capped rent rises and make standard tenancy agreements three years rather than six months should it win enough support in next week’s general election.

The response from those in the mortgage and housing industries was poor.

Colin Payne, associate director of London-based Chapelgate Private Finance, said: “The Labour plan to abolish stamp duty for three years for first-time buyers is a gimmick aimed at winning votes; it is not a new concept and will not suddenly result in a rush of new buyers into the market.”

Housing expert Henry Pryor said: “Don't be taken in by Labour rent controls, it won't make it cheaper or increase supply but it will distort the market.”

Naomi Heaton, chief executive of property firm London Central Portfolio, rubbished the plans suggesting that first-time buyers outside London will save just £242 in stamp duty under Labour’s new pledge.

She added: “Labour has said that it will benefit nine in 10 such buyers to the tune of £5,000. Rubbish. Labour are clearly very bad at their sums, which is why, of course, we are so worried about them running the economy.”