Home buyers have benefitted from lower or no stamp duty, a tax paid on property purchases, in some parts of the UK, for more than a year.

The tax holidays on stamp duty or its equivalent taxes, were introduced by ministers to stimulate the housing market as the country emerged from the first national Covid lockdown last summer.

Since then, the market has been buoyant - immune to the economic shock created by the pandemic. Sales reached record levels, as did house prices. Official data show the average cost of a residential property in the UK rose by 8% in a year. Some areas saw increases of more than 20%.

Stamp duty rates in England and Northern Ireland have now returned to their pre-pandemic levels. Similar taxes in Scotland and Wales are already back to normal.

Yet, debate continues over whether the tax break policy was a success, or unnecessary.

Two experts, representing both sides of the argument, have shared their views.

Mark Bogard, chief executive of The Family Building Society, says that the pandemic meant ministers could use stamp duty holidays to change problems with the UK housing stock.

"Stamp duty is a very significant tax, but it is extremely easy to avoid by just not moving home," he says.

People have generally been living in the same home for longer than in the past. That is especially true of potential 'downsizers' , who have been put off moving because they would normally have to pay stamp duty, he says.

Image caption, Mark Bogard says the policy stimulated the economy

He describes the stamp duty holiday as "very elegantly crafted".

"People seem to forget there was no [tax] holiday for buy-to-let investors. There was no holiday for second home purchases. There was no holiday for people buying from abroad," he says.

Instead, he says, it was centred on people buying a home and that created its own economic stimulus.

People spend significant amounts of money sprucing-up a property before they sell it, money is then spent during the buying and selling process, and then buyers spend again to make changes when they move in, he says.

The stamp duty holiday led to many more sales and the extra spending benefitted all the accompanying sectors, such as home improvements, valuations and removals. It also helped the Treasury to bring in extra tax receipts from VAT, for example.

He also argues that, with stamp duty in England and Northern Ireland not paid on purchases of up to £500,000, in the first phase of the stamp duty holiday, it benefitted the less wealthy areas of the country. That, he says, helped with the government's levelling-up agenda.

"I can't see any argument for not continuing with [the stamp duty holiday]," he says.