Autumn Statement “fell short” on farming measures says NFU

The Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Autumn Statement fell short of delivering measures that will enable the country’s farm businesses to maximise their potential.

That’s the farm-based conclusion reached by the NFU’s director of policy, Andrew Clark, who described Chancellor Philip Hammond’s statement as being generally “disappointing”.

While accepting the statement included some positives for farmers, the NFU found plenty to dislike in the overall package.

“The Chancellor’s planned reduction to the rate of Corporation Tax, while providing benefits to the supply chain, does little to help the majority of farm businesses that are unincorporated,” said Mr Clark. “Farm businesses need to be able to retain and invest profits in infrastructure and equipment to improve their productivity and the tax system needs to recognise and support this, as it does other parts of the economy.”

He also saw a farming downside to the announcement that the National Living Wage rate will be increased to £7.50 per hour in April 2017.

“While the NFU strongly supports a living wage for all workers, we have expressed to Government our concerns about the speed of the implementation,” said Mr Clark (pictured above). “Accelerating increases will make this even more difficult for employers and we remain concerned about the impact on farm businesses.”

The NFU did make welcoming noises, however, about the addition of £23 billion in higher value investment over the next five years, going into a new National Productivity Investment Fund, with an extra £2 billion being directed towards research and development.

Noting that it wasn’t clear where this extra money will be spent, the union used the announcement to say that the government “must continue” its support of the Agri-Tech Strategy and that the newly announced investment “simply must” include the agri-food sector.

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