Rishi Sunak, Britain’s incontinent chancellor, is busy painting himself as the adult in the Downing Street room but, as they used to say on dud cheques, words and figures do not agree. This week, the bill for his bung to homeowners in the form of the stamp duty holiday came in at £6.4bn, with half of the saving going on houses costing over £500,000. It does not need a degree in economics to work out that if you cut a tax and make something cheaper to buy, the sellers will quickly adjust their prices to capture the change.

It is not as if we have no recent examples of this process at work. The Help to Buy scheme immediately allowed housebuilders to raise their prices, and effectively doubled their profit margins. The first-time buyer was helped, all right, but at the cost of having to pay more in the first place – now a record 5 1/2 times his income on average, according to the Nationwide Building Society.

The entirely predictable result of the stamp duty holiday has been another twist to the house price spiral, with last month’s Halifax house price index 8.1 per cent upon the year before. Quite why this form of inflation alone is considered good news betrays our addiction to domestic property, and a government terrified of the consequences of the fall in prices which is so long overdue.