Autumn Budget: Few measures to help farming industry

The Chancellor extended support for many businesses - but farming was absent from major announcements
The Chancellor extended support for many businesses - but farming was absent from major announcements

The Autumn Budget offered few specific measures to help the farming industry through the toughest challenges it has faced for decades.

Despite facing huge pressures as the Basic Payment Scheme is phased out, agriculture missed out on specific measures in the Chancellor’s Budget.

However, there were some announcements that may help out certain sectors.

Farmers investing in their businesses’ plant and machinery may be able to benefit from the extension of their Annual Investment Allowance, which was due to end on the 1 January 2022 but has now been extended until 2023.

Farmers planning to diversify could be encouraged to take the plunge by the one-year 50 per cent business rates discount for retail, hospitality and leisure sectors.

However, smaller farms may be better off using the already-available Small Business Rates Relief.

There was also further incentives for farmers to invest in green property improvements, with the new Green Investment Relief encouraging businesses to adopt green tech like solar panels

Elsewhere in the budget, the end of the premium duty on sparkling wine will be a boost for the UK's growing wine sector and lower duty on draught beer and cider could help on-farm drinks manufacturers and potentially benefit growers of barley, hops and apples.

After tax hikes to dividends and National Insurance Contributions were announced in September, there were no major tax changes that would affect farmers announced in the Budget.

Sean McCann, chartered financial planner at NFU Mutual, said: "The only change made was extending the time to report and pay tax due on gains from residential property from 30 days to 60 days, a welcome change which gives people more time to pay the tax after selling or gifting residential property.

“Capital Gains Tax rates was not aligned to Income Tax as feared, and there was no change to the way it relates to estates that have already benefited from Agricultural and Business Property Relief.

“This means any gains from farmland or property are still wiped on death for those farming families that pass down the farm to the next generation with a reduced inheritance tax bill.”

NFU President Minette Batters said it was 'disappointing' not to hear anything on government plans to develop its export strategy to help farmers grow their markets overseas.

She said there were also no details including on overhauling government procurement practices to increase the provision of British food in schools, hospitals and other public sites.

“And equally the lack of focus on net zero funding, especially with COP26 only days away was a missed opportunity," Mrs Batters added.

"However, the Chancellor did announce that businesses will benefit from business rates investment relief for green technologies, which is a positive move to support continued investment in renewable energy and may help in UK farming’s ambition to achieve net zero by 2040.

"We will now need to see more detail to be certain about the impacts this will deliver on farm."