ONE of the North’s leading financial institutions today described key announcements in Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s second Budget as “absolutely fabulous news” for the region.

Darlington Building Society described the news that more than 700 Treasury jobs are to be moved to Darlington, along with Teesside being granted Freeport status, as “massive long-term economic boosts”.

The Society’s Chief Operating Officer, Chris Hunter, said: “In general, it seems like a really positive Budget in terms of trying to get the economy back on its feet after an immensely difficult period, and we broadly welcome its contents.

“In terms of the North-East, the news about the Treasury jobs coming to Darlington, and the Freeport for Teesside, is absolutely fabulous. It is a massive long-term boost for the area, particularly in terms of stopping the ‘brain drain’ to the South.”

Mr Hunter also welcomed the phased approach to extending the stamp duty holiday. Instead of expiring on March 31, the tax break for house-buyers will now be stretched until June 30. That will be followed by a £250,000 nil rate band until September, before returning to the original £125,000 from October 1.

“Ahead of the Budget, Darlington Building Society called for a phased extension, and the further relief until September is an extra sweetener, so we are really pleased,” he said.

There was another welcome for Mr Sunak’s announcement that the Government will back mortgages for buyers with a deposit of just five per cent on homes valued at up to £600,000.

Mr Hunter said: “Darlington Building Society is proud that it has managed to keep its 90 per cent loan to value mortgages available throughout the pandemic, so we welcome this extra step to help first-time buyers. We will be reviewing our product range to provide assistance for members in our local area.”