A Cumbrian building society has welcomed Government debate around the future of stamp duty.

The Cumberland says the tax discourages people from buying homes, but chief financial officer Richard Ellison says Chancellor Sajid Javid should be wary of changing the system in a way which simply transfers the burden to house sellers and potentially reduces the number of homes for sale.

Mr Elllison said that The Cumberland, which is Cumbria’s biggest mortgage lender, could see the harm that stamp duty did to the housing market.

“It is clear that stamp duty currently acts as a disincentive to buyers and consumes a large amount of their hard saved deposits,” he said.

“A move to seller pays may help provide a lower step up on to the housing ladder for first-time buyers which the Cumberland welcomes.

“While the change is progressive in that it levies a charge on those who have benefitted from significant property prices rises over time it is also likely to create an unhelpful series of disincentives to home movers and downsizers that may reduce supply, particularly at a time with lower house price inflation.

“Simply put, the best way not to pay the government a second time for a home you have already paid stamp duty on is not to move.”

Mr Ellison said the Government was right to look at the issue, but should be wary of unintended consequences of changes to stamp duty.

He added: “A more effective way of stimulating the housing market would be to reduce the burden of stamp duty.

“The Cumberland believes this would be a more focused way of opening up property ownership to a new generation.”

The Chancellor has said he has no plans to make house sellers rather than buyers pay stamp duty tax, despite reports he was considering the idea.

"I know from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government that we need bold measures on housing - but this isn't one of them," Mr Javid said last week.

However, he has given no details of what his actual plans are. It is expected they will be revealed in the budget in the autumn.