Expert comment on Autumn Statement for farmers

Chancellor George Osborne gave a “bits and pieces” Autumn Statement for farming, with advisors warning that the detail published after the speech could reveal some of the more important effects on farming businesses.

Measures to make tax avoidance more difficult are likely to form part of that detail, following consultation through the summer on those operating mixed partnerships, where a company is included as a partner. There may also be action to curb the flexibility of partnership profit sharing.

A freeze on fuel duty will be welcomed but longer working lives until state pension can be claimed will affect all, and may be a particular challenge for those in physical occupations and for their employers. Measures on house building and rate relief could help some rural businesses.

The statement confirmed yesterday’s announcement of a re-focussing of support slightly in favour of large offshore wind developments compared with onshore wind and solar projects.

FWi’s panel of advisors commented on the measures as they were announced – to see their comments read the transcript below.

“Investment in infrastructure and house building may help rural communities, but affordable housing is what is needed,” said Rebecca Spencer of law firm Withers.

“Analysis will be possible once we can download the papers accompanying the chancellor’s statement, but draft legislation will not be published until 10 December and that will be necessary for more detailed consideration of the proposed measures,” said Carlton Collister of tax advisor Landtax.

Autumn Statement key points:

  • Growth forecasts for this year revised from the 0.6% predicted in March to 1.4% and to between 2.2 and 2.7% for following four years

  • State pension age rises to 68 in mid-2030s and 69 in late 2040s

  • From April 2014, state pension rises £2.95 a week

  • Personal income tax allowance rises to £10,000 from April 2014

  • Married couples and civil partners tax break from April 2015

  • Business rate rises in England and Wales capped at 2%, discounts for some retail businesses could be of benefit to farm shops and other diversified farm-based businesses

  • 20,000 more apprenticeships over next two years

  • Fuel duties taxes frozen

  • Motor tax discs to be replaced by electronic system

  • Loans to boost housing developments could benefit some rural sites

  • Employer National Insurance contributions to be removed on 1.5m jobs for young people

  • 20,000 more apprenticeships to be created

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