In his last Budget before Brexit, Chancellor Philip Hammond offered some financial carrots for the countryside – but offered no clarity to help farmers plan for their post Brexit future.
“Farmers desperately seeking clarity from the government to help them plan for the long-term, received little to comfort them. Huge questions remain over the future funding of rural support after Brexit, making it hard for farmers to plan investment in their businesses,” said Tim Price, rural affairs specialist at NFU Mutual.
“At first glance, there was not a lot for farmers to get excited about – but there are a few measures which will ease tax bills – and it’s a huge relief that the Chancellor avoided increases in duty on petrol and diesel which would have hit country people very hard.
“There was good news for self-employed farmers and all those working as employees that the Chancellor has stuck to the Tory’s promise to keep increasing personal tax allowances. The amount of income that can be earned before paying tax will increase to £12,500 and the higher rate won’t kick in until an income of £50,000 is reached – which means a few hundred pounds more out of the taxman’s grasp.”
Mr Price continued: “Apparently there’s no ‘sting in this tail’ on the widely forecast pension contribution cuts and Inheritance Tax changes which would have hit self-employed farmers hard at a time of tightening belts in agriculture and the food chain as Brexit approaches.
“Let’s hope a big chunk of the Chancellor’s £420m pothole fixing fund finds its way to fix our rutted and crumbling rural road network.”
“The Chancellor’s announcement of £10m funding for Air Ambulance services is good news for farmers and country people – those living in remote areas need these services most as they face long trips to get to hospitals if they are involved in an accident or are seriously ill.”