…death and taxes. George’s Autumn Statement last week contained some interesting estimates from the Office of Budget Responsibility (I wonder how you get the gig in there?). The general consensus in their figures was that house prices will increase by a fifth over the next three years. This has led to the usual chorus of shock and horror from the usual protagonists; step forward Vince Cable. Chancellor Osborne defended himself, insisting that it was right to help people buy homes but that he would not allow a bubble to develop. My initial reaction was, ‘Good on you George’; but delving deeper into the OBR report I became increasingly cynical. According to the OBR, if these house prices do come to fruition, then the amount paid to the Treasury in stamp duty will jump from the estimated £8.9 billion in 2013/14 to £16.8 billion in 2018/19. Thus handing the Chancellor of the day (George hopes that it will be him; get back in your box Vince, Boris, Ed Nigel et al), an unexpected yet gratefully received giant windfall. This would be a major boost to any election campaign and Government credibility. To think that only 12 months ago politicians of all colours were suggesting that one of the ways forward out of the financial mire was to scrap stamp duty. Now one can understand why George, ‘cocked a deaf ‘un’. There is possibly more chance of Vince pulling on his pumps to trip the light fantastic with Flavia than stamp duty facing the dance-off.