Autumn Statement 2014: how will it affect the agriculture sector?

4 December 2014

Chancellor George Osborne delivered his 2014 Autumn Statement on Wednesday 3 December.

Whilst there was no specific mention of the agriculture sector, including no mention of the annual investment allowance (a key issue the NFU asked Osborne to address), the Chancellor’s announcement did include measures that have the potential to help the rural and agriculture sector, including:

Freezing of fuel duty

Fuel duty will remain frozen until the end of the Parliament in May 2015. With the biggest expense for many people living and working in rural areas being the cost of fuel, it is welcome news that fuel duty will not rise.

Extension to small business rate relief

The doubling of Small Business Rate Relief will be extended for a further year from 1 April 2015. There will also be a new Government review of the future structure of business rates, in time for Budget 2016.

Exemption of employer NICs for apprentices

From April 2016 employer NICs up to the upper earnings limit for apprentices aged under 25 will be abolished.  With agricultural apprenticeship numbers on the increase, this will come as welcome news.

Flood defence relief

Businesses will be given tax relief for investing in flood defences, the construction of which has been at the centre of the Government’s plans to boost infrastructure. This  tax relief is an important recognition of the role landowners across the country are playing in protecting vital agricultural land and rural communities.

Increase to personal allowance

The personal tax-free allowance for 2015/16 will increase to £10,600 (from £10,000).

NFU director of policy Andrew Clark said yesterday: “The freezing of fuel duty for a further year, exempting apprenticeships from national insurance, and a further extension to small business rate relief all have the potential to help farmers. However it is disappointing that the changes to Stamp Duty Land Tax relate to residential property only…. It is disappointing that no mention was made of the annual investment allowance or encouraging investment in business infrastructure or managing business volatility – some of the NFU’s key asks in our submission.”

If you would like to discuss the implications of the Autumn Statement announcements in more detail with one of our rural and agriculture team, please contact one of our specialists at your nearest location, or complete the contact form.

For our complete summary of the 2014 Autumn Statement, please visit the Budget summary section of our website.