Farming organisations were especially critical of the Chancellor’s move to increase immediately the duty on red diesel by 23% while freezing duty on standard fuel.

He claimed the 1.22p/litre rise to 6.44p/litre would cut down on fraudulent use.

But John Kinnaird, NFU Scotland president, said: “I simply do not buy the argument that this rise will tackle oil fraud.

Farmers have faced a 50% rise in their on-farm fuel bills over the last 12 months.

We are operating in a market that not only expects us to absorb that, but also where end prices get hammered because of the fuel costs facing our customers.”

Tim Bennett, NFU president, said: “Surely if high oil prices are justification enough for a freeze on regular transport fuel duty then the same is true of red diesel, which plays such a vital role in the day-to-day operation of our industry.”

NFU Cymru president Peredur Hughes said it was a “kick in the teeth” for farmers.

Planning
Government plans to press ahead with a planning gain supplement from 2008 on land or buildings with planning permission for development were also criticised fiercely.

Phil Bruce-Moore, agricultural taxation specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “As yet there has been no indication as to what rate of tax would be charged – but the intention to introduce this tax could affect the viability of many farmers’ plans to sell off land for housing development.”

Mike Harrison of accountant Saffrey Champness said: “It would be advisable for any farmers with planning applications currently in progress to try and push ahead with urgency.”

However, Carlton Collister of Grant Thornton said it was a relief that it appeared the tax would now only be levied once development started, not when consent was granted as initially feared.

It would also be payable by the developer not the landowner and there would be an exemption for “small” developments, he said.

“But whether or not diversification projects count as ‘small’ remains to be seen.”

Tax

Businesses that had switched from sole-trader or partnership status to an incorporated company to benefit from a zero rate of corporation tax on the first £10,000 of profits would be hit following Mr Brown’s decision to scrap the break, added Mr Collister.

Pensions

Those farmers planning to take advantage of much-vaunted tax breaks by investing residential property in self-invested personal pension schemes (SIPPS) will be also disappointed following Mr Brown unexpected climb down on the proposed reliefs.

“This scheme had attracted a lot of interest from farmers who saw the opportunity to build a tax-efficient pension fund by investing in property.

Those planning to make use of this facility will now have to review their pension plans,” said Mr Bruce-Moore.

andrew.shirley@rbi.co.uk