Chancellor Philip Hammond will unveil the Government's fiscal plans on Monday next week.
Last year, he scrapped stamp duty for first-time buyers but there was little solace for those further up the housing ladder, many of whom feel trapped in their homes because of the increasingly extortionate cost of moving.
With just five days to go, reader Chris Healy put down her predicament in writing for Mr Hammond to consider. It is in full below.
Dear Chancellor, I need your help — as I suspect do thousands of others. And if you help us, then we may end up helping you. So it's a win-win.
My problem, you see, is I'd like to downsize: first my home and then, later, my job.
I am no shirker, but I'm coming up to 67 and have been working full-time for almost 50 years, so part-time hours are starting to have a greater appeal. I've tried twice now to sell my house and have failed — and lost a fair bit of money in the process.
The first time, 18 months ago, the cash buyer, had agreed to pay £1million (this is the expensive South-East we're talking about) plus £43,750 in stamp duty. We'd almost reached exchange of contracts when he stopped responding. I paid my solicitor's bill, chalked it down to experience and moved on. Not literally, of course.
The second time, just two weeks ago, on the day before I was signing my sale contract, this time selling for £945,000, the buyers reduced their offer price by £50,000. Nice. I offered a £10,000 reduction but they remained firm and the whole deal went pear-shaped.
The result is that I now have more legal fees to pay and — if I don't find another buyer pretty quickly — I will lose the deposit on my intended home on a new development. I can't say punitive stamp duty charges alone are to blame for these sales falling though — but they mean there are far fewer buyers interested to begin with.
Yes, it's a difficult market — but you, Mr Hammond, could help to change that and, may I add, perhaps improve your own prospects.