Monday, December 10, 2018

Uncertainty fuels opportunity for region’s rural landowners

December 3, 2018 by  
Filed under News & Business

Opportunities beyond agriculture are set to change the way farmers, landowners and rural estates need to work, conference delegates were told last month.

Organised by Savills, the autumn rural conference saw more than 100 landowners, farmers and professionals gather at Stoke Rochford Hall, near Grantham. The event on 8 November saw experts address a range of topics effecting the rural sector as uncertain times beckon.

Chairman Johnny Dudgeon, head of Savills Lincoln, said: “It is quite clear that there are uncertain times ahead, but uncertainty fuels opportunity and this seminar provided a chance for local landowners to gather pragmatic advice on how to drive their businesses forward.”

Simon Foster, head of the commercial heritage consultancy team at Savills, explained how farming families and rural landowners can adapt how they work and talked about the benefits and pitfalls of diversification on rural businesses.

A growing number of businesses were choosing to move into the tourism and event sectors – including weddings, events, filming and photography, and holiday accommodation – to meet with the needs of the modern day consumer.

Special considerations

Jarred Wright, partner at Roythornes Solicitors, discussed how changes to the current inheritance tax system – which has existed in its present form for 32 years – could affect landowners and businesses.

Following Philip Hammond’s call at the start of 2018 for a simplification review of inheritance tax, a report has been handed into the Treasury. Any changes could present problems for landowners and landlords, particularly if Agricultural Property Relief is abolished, he suggested.

Fellow Roythornes partner Julie Robinson highlighted the need to structure farm businesses so not to jeopardise available agricultural reliefs. The inheritance tax implications of any post-Brexit schemes had still to be explored, she added.

Entrepreneurs relief

Taxation rules, benefits and constraints were also explored by John Thame, head of agriculture at chartered accountants Ellacotts. Recently announced changes made to entrepreneurs relief mean there is an extension of the qualifying holding period from one year to two years, he said.

Shareholders within farm businesses should consider their position at least two years before any transaction to ensure their position is protected, said Mr Thame. He also talked about the benefits of setting up a partnership rather than acting as a sole trader to protect a business for the future.

Ann Bibby gave an insight into Family Investment Companies (FIC) and the benefits of taking this route over a trust within a family business when it comes to taxation and powers. This route does however mean filing accounts at Companies House, potentially creating more work.

Ms Bibby urged delegates to take into consideration the government’s Making Tax Digital initiative which will come into force from April 2019 for those over the VAT threshold of £85,000. It will eventually replace self-assessment below that threshold too.

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