Concise Rural Taxation 2017/18 Edition

Due from the printer this week.  130 pages on Income, Capital Gains, Inheritance, VAT, Trusts etc etc including latest changes as they affect farming and the rural economy.  For more details Continue reading “Concise Rural Taxation 2017/18 Edition”


Land Management Today

Masthead design

Land Management TODAY – LMT – is published for the first time today.  The first edition is the work of a group of postgraduate students at Harper Adams University who came together at the end of June to study a module called Land Use and Management.  The first edition contains 28 short articles covering a range of topics.  Download your copy of LMT here: Land Management Today July 2017.

Here is the full contents list:

  1. How farming is set to lose its flavour
  2. Buying into Ecosystem Services – whetting the appetite for diversification
  3. Battery storage, the next big thing for energy production?
  4. Branding: Rural Estates in the head and on the ground
  5. Bringing Back Britain’s Trees
  6. Avoiding Failure with Forwards and Futures .
  7. Smother With Cover: black-grass .
  8. A Tale of Two Leys
  9. Will Dairy Cows Ever See a Human?
  10. Conventional v Organic: Breaking Down Barriers
  11. Diversity & Inclusion; The £24 billion boost
  12. Farm smart in the hills
  13. The Drones are Coming
  14. Finding your perfect partner: Relationships not Rules for land tenure success
  15. State Open for Business
  16. Tax simplification; anything but simple
  17. Spring Budget Basics for Taxation on Rural Estates
  18. Brexit for Breakfast
  19. Agricultural Trade: “Preparing for the Worst, Hoping for the Best”
  20. Soil Health Subsidies
  21. Countryside Stewardship Scheme
  22. Telecommunications-The Implications for Rural Land Owners
  23. Telecoms and the Rise of Statutory Powers
  24. Compulsory Purchase: RICS mandates practice with new PS
  25. Make sure you don’t lose out with Business Rates
  26. No Growth in the Greenbelt
  27. Mid-Tier Countryside Stewardship and Capital Grants – are you missing a trick?
  28. H-App-y Maps
  29. Contributor Profiles

This is the first in what we hope will continue as a series of occasional papers on current topics of concern to land management today.

Introducing ‘Blight’ – Planning Blight and Compulsory Purchase

I have made four presentations on the topic of planning blight and compulsory purchase.  These are primarily for the land management students at Harper Adams University, but they may be of interest to a wider audience.  The first video describes statutory blight, and deals with the types of owner and property which qualify for blight protection under the Planning Acts.  The second video deals with the procedures for the successful service of a blight notice up to and including a reference to the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber).  Video Three addresses the specific and special requirements for blight notices on farmland and the final video in the series reviews discretionary blight, while also picking up some of the advance purchase and compensation schemes which have been initiated by HS2.

Happy Viewing!

£1 million party to celebrate Agincourt: Don’t take the budget too seriously

A few headline points for the rural economy from today’s budget, to add to the mainstream reporting:

  1. Deeds of variation for Inheritance Tax: a consultation is to report by Autumn.  It is therefore important to pursue any deeds of variation which may be needed straightaway, and to review wills to ensure that deeds of variation will not be required.  Their days may now be numbered.
  2. No more tax returns: sounds good, but will digital tax accounts be any better?
  3. Annual Investment Allowance.  It won’t come down from £500,000 to £25,000 after December this year.  We will be told in the Autumn statement what the new rate will be.  This timing is more appropriate, says Osborne.  Two months’ notice?  More appropriate? So much for a long term view on business investment needs.
  4. Compulsory Purchase Reform/Review: consultation now issued, responses by June this year.  First impression: more tinkering, much like the story of piecemeal reforms since the Land Compensation Act 1973.  Key points seem to include earlier payment of compensation (ahead of entry); better compensation; more encouragement to pay ‘over the odds’ to avoid other problems in the acquisition process; reconsideration of the ‘material detriment’ provisions.  There doesn’t seem to be much on blight, either statutory or discretionary and more generally on the interests of property owners and occupiers who lose no land but whose interests are badly affected by public development.
  5. Local Enterprise Partnerships and Forestry: who will LEPS be forced to marry next at the muzzle of a shotgun?  £1 million for for forestry schemes which are brought forward with LEP support – not one to hold your breath for.
  6. Rural broadband (an interesting concept): a universal service obligation of 5 Mbps everywhere may facilitate satellite access.  Details are far from clear, but vital to the successful delivery of this.
  7. Farmers’ profit averaging: the averaging period extended from two years to five year with effect from April 2016.  How will this work?  We don’t know yet: consultation is to follow.
  8. Flood Defence Relief: for expenditure against Income Tax or Corporation Tax – an interesting possibility to consider in the context of the development of ecosystem services.  For example Farmer A will manage his riverside fields to accept surplus water in order to protect Manufacturer B’s factory.  Will B be able to get tax relief for the money he pays to Farmer A for this purpose?
  9. Subletting within residential tenancies: needs thinking through but apparently tenants may be able to override restrictions in their leases.  Form an orderly queue ….
  10. CGT Entrepreneurs’ Relief: various loose ends to be tightened up.  An ideal headline for scaremongering but unlikely to be of concern to ‘genuine’ cases.

How seriously should we take all this?  Paddy Power are offering the following odds on the next government:

  • Labour minority 3/11
  • Conservative minority 7/2
  • Conservative majority 9/2
  • Labour SNP Coalition, and Conservative Lib Dem coalition 5/1

Whoever wins there will be another budget early in the new Parliament.  That’s really the one to watch for rather than today’s dying embers.  Let’s hope the big Agincourt party survives the general election – never mind the charisma of Henry IV’s speech (as Shakespeare would have it anyway) but do remember the skill and discipline of the English and Welsh archers.  Could this be George Osborne’s silent blow against UKIP?

Rural Planning Blight: what can you do?

Find out what you can do if faced by ‘blight’ from public development proposals on your property.  This RICS webclass covers the circumstances which give rise to blight, how this fits in with compulsory purchase more generally, how to serve a blight notice and what happens next, and how to deal with compensation claims.  The webclass is open to non-members of RICS as well as members, but a certain amount of background knowledge of planning and compulsory purchase would be helpful.

So if you’re facing the prospect of HS2, or any of the other big public developments promised in last week’s Spending Review, this could be the ideal opportunity to get up to speed with this vitally important area, whether as an affected landowner or rural professional adviser.

Click here for details of the webclass and booking arrangements.

The webclass takes place on 10 July at 9.00 am and lasts 90 minutes.  The presentation is accompanied by various activities which ensure you are able to test your understanding, and there is plenty of opportunity for questions and discussion.  Feedback on previous webclasses in the RICS Rural Series has been excellent, and this class promises to be no exception.  A recording of the class is available for a week afterwards, as well as copies of the slides which will be used.

This is a novel but effective way to keep up with your CPD – straight from the comfort of your own desk; with a suitable internet connection you could even take part from the comfort of your bed!  Plus there are no travelling costs, and by sharing with a friend the cost goes even further!

#HS2: Government confirms new High Speed Railway – some property points

Transport Secretary Justine Greening has confirmed that the new high speed railway network will be built.  Her statement can be seen on the Transport Department website (link).

There are also two supporting documents which cover some of the property aspects of the decision, a Review of the Property Issues and an initial guide for property owners, Do you think you are affected by the HS2 Route.

Key points from both publications and the Secretary of State’s announcement:

  • 36,036 representations during the consultation process were concerned wtih property impact (over 65% of the consultations received)
  • 11,843 were concerned about the effects of noise
  • Farming issues are mentioned and the documents say these will be dealt with on a case by case basis
  • Various options put forward by HS2 to avoid property blight received a lukewarm response at best, although one of the more favoured approaches by banks and mortgage lenders was a bond-based purchase scheme. 
  • Detailed work on land referencing (ie ground and other surveys to determine who owns and occupies what) will start in Summer 2012, and HS2 is expected to appoint staff and agents soon to begin work on this
  • HS2 should therefore be in a position to begin negotiations in Summer 2012
  • Physical construction is expected  to start in 2016 and the line is expected to open in 2026.   Links to Manchester, Leeds and Heathrow are predicted for 2032-33.
  • As a result of the consultation process, more of the line will be in tunnels or deeper cuttings and the route has been altered in the vicinity of Edgcote to avoid historic buildings.  A new tunnel will be dug in the Ruislip/Northolt area (4.4 km), a continuous tunnel will run under the Chilterns and longer green tunnels will be created in the areas of Chippping Warden, Aston Le Wells, Wendover and South Heath.
  • The cost of the project at 2011 present values is put at £32.7 Bn, but the benefits are estimated as £47 Bn plus £34 Bn fare income over a 60 year period.

Property owners and occupiers are promised:

  • A streamlined purchase scheme
  • A Sale and Rent Back scheme to give owners a greater choice over when to leave their property
  • Streamlined procedures for small claims
  • A refreshed hardship scheme

In particular, property owners above tunnels are promised:

  • Before and after surveys of their property – so it makes sense to ensure that property is in good condition in preparation for the ‘before’ survey
  • Compensation for subsoil purchase – although in a series of cases at the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) last year concerning bored tunnels for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link nominal compensation of £50 was awarded in each case.  Scott and others v Secretary of State for Transport provides one example of many
  • HS2 will take on permanent responsibility for subsidence due to their tunnels

Further detail is to follow on compensation aspects, over and above the minimum requirements of the statutory compensation code, including the Sale and Rent Back scheme and more information on Advance Payments.

For further information on today’s decision including various supporting documents, see the Department for Transport website section devoted to this (link):

The decision is still open to final legal challenges, and is still subject to final Parliamentary approval although few if any problems are anticipated with the latter.