Housebuilders said this week that imposing VAT on house purchases would have a devastating effect on the sector.
The House Builders Federation reacted angrily to chancellor Gordon Brown’s refusal to rule out the move on Tuesday.

Speaking at a Treasury select committee meeting, Brown refused to confirm whether or not he would impose VAT on house purchases to dampen the property market.

A spokesman for the House Builders Federation described the idea as “ridiculous”.

The spokesperson said: “It would have a devastating effect on the market and would make an absolute mockery of the government’s claims that it has concerns about the plight of key workers who cannot afford to get on the housing ladder.”

He added that the federation had serious doubts the notion would ever be put into practice.

“The case against VAT has been very well put, and the market is cooling off of its own accord.”