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Berkeley chairman: Stamp Duty reform creates 'continuing uncertainty'

The Berkeley Group has reported an 80 per cent increase in pre-tax profit in the six months to 31 October 2014.

The housebuilder’s turnover grew by 24.5 per cent to £1.02bn in the six month period, compared with £821m in the same period in 2013.

Pre-tax profit were up by 79.9 per cent to £304.9m, compared with £169.6m in 2013, including £85.1m in gross profit from the sale of ground rent assets in 2014.

Berkeley chairman Tony Pidgley said the changes to the Stamp Duty announced by the chancellor George Osborne in the Autumn Statement would create “continuing uncertainty”.

Mr Pidgley said the changes had been well-received by the market, but that it was “yet to see consensus from the parties on the likely shape of policy after the general election, which means continuing uncertainty”.

Mr Osborne announced in the Autumn Statement that Stamp Duty would be cut for the 98 per cent of homebuyers who pay it, from midnight on 3 December.

Berkeley built and sold 1,372 new homes in London and the south of England during the period. It said the government’s Help to Buy scheme had contributed to 182 sales within Berkeley over the past 18 months.

It also created over 1,000 new jobs in the six months, and said it is now directly sustaining 12,000 people in London and the South and providing training to over 700 young adults.

In November it launched St William Homes, a £700m joint venture with National Grid to provide more than 7,000 homes on National Grid’s surplus brownfield land over the next 10 to 15 years.

Berkeley executive director Sean Ellis told Construction News at the time that St William Homes could “become a top 10 housebuilder in its own right”.

Berkeley managing director Rob Perrins said the six months to 31 October had “seen a return to normal trading conditions” after a high point in 2013.

He said: “Looking to the future, there will be a period of uncertainty, whether political in the run-up to a 2015 general election, economic as the global recovery risks losing steam, or in terms of visibility over interest rates and monetary policy.

“Mindful of this uncertainty, Berkeley believes that it has the right developments, structure, operating model, financial strength and flexibility to achieve its targets and build a successful business which is sustainable for the long-term.”

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