Weaker Pound Leads to Higher Subsidy Payments

Basic Payment Scheme

Basic Payment Scheme payments for 2017 will be just under 5% higher than in 2016 due to the currency exchange rate.

Under the rules of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), support payments for the UK are set in Euros and then converted to Sterling  by using the average exchange rate across the month of September.

It means that the payments made this year will be at their highest exchange rate since 2009, which will surely be a welcome boost for UK farmers.

Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.

Rural Payments Agency Risking Wrath of Farmers

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The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has managed to spark outrage with its latest gaffe.

More than 600 letters have been sent out to farmers who they think were overpaid under the Basic Payment Scheme in 2015 or 2016. The fact that really grates is that some claimants have been waiting more than 18 months for their underpayments to be rectified. In some instances, this is understood to be worth tens of thousands of pounds.

The Basic Payment Scheme is the biggest of the European Union’s rural grants and payments designed specifically to help the farming industry. Claimants apply once a year – usually in May – and payments begin in December.

However since the scheme began in 2015 it has been fraught with problems, with the majority of payments being late from the off.

Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.

Will Brexit Affect the Value of Your Farmland?

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Fears have been expressed by some land agents that agricultural land prices may fall in the UK, as a direct result of Brexit.

It is expected that the amount of subsidies, such as the Basic Payment Scheme, will decline once Britain leaves the EU, causing some farmers to re-consider their financial position.  Many are already struggling to make ends meet and a reduction in subsidy support, combined with a predicted interest-rate rise for borrowing, may result in many being forced to leave the industry.

As a consequence the demand for farmland could fall away, with the price per hectare dropping by as much as £1,000, despite it having remained fairly robust so far, at an average of around £7,500 for bare land.

However, even the experts admit it is difficult to predict the full impact of Brexit, with so many other factors coming into play, such as trade tariffs, pricing and food imports.  Post-referendum predictions of economic doom and gloom have not yet come to pass, so those in the industry would be wise not to panic at this stage.

Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.

HMRC Warns Farmers To Declare Subsidies On Tax Returns

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Farmers claiming the BPS are being reminded by HM Revenue & Customs that these support payments must be included on their tax returns to avoid possible fines.

Several farmers have been written to by HMRC reminding them that subsidies are taxable and need to be declared on tax returns.

Some may be worried by the letters, whereas in most cases BPS payments have already been included on the returns. Fines for not declaring income can be up to 60% plus interest, so if you are in any doubt, it is worth asking an accountant to check for you.

Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.

Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Basic Payment Scheme Will Be Flat Rate

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It has been announced that the Basic Payment Scheme for Wales will be paid at a flat rate over the whole of Wales by 2019. In addition Welsh Ministers have decided to apply an ‘add on’ known as the Redistributive Payment for the first 54 hectares of a claim.

It is great to have a decision on this, so that the chances of receiving the BPS in good time are improved. However, we do not yet know the details of how it will be applied or whether any groups of farmers will feel that this solution should be challenged as well.

Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.

Prepare For Delays In Receiving Basic Payment Scheme

11702540563_45cdb2e171_zDue to the complexity of the new Basic Payment Scheme there is a risk that payments may be delayed which will have a major cash flow impact for farm businesses. The payment window is 1 December 2015 to 30 June 2016.

It is very important to prepare for this as part of your cash flow planning for this year. In particular you may need to arrange extra funding facilities.

NatWest and RBS have just announced that they are making interest only loans available to farming customers across the UK to bridge this gap.

Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.

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