Budget 2017: CLA reaction

22 November 2017

The CLA which represents landowners, farmers and rural business across England and Wales who together manage more than 10 million acres of rural land has responded to the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget announcements.

On house building CLA President Tim Breitmeyer said:

“We need more homes of all types across the whole country. It is worrying for a Chancellor to be so explicit in describing a policy so completely focused on urban areas. The shortage of homes in rural communities is no less acute than in our towns and cities. Rural landowners stand ready and able to play their part in delivering the homes people need. Another budget has gone by without making simple changes to tax and planning policy that could make a big difference.

“We welcome the increase in the number of small sites in local plans and the further funding for the Home Builders Fund. We also look forward to participating in the review to be led by Oliver Letwin into the buildout rates of land with planning permission for housing. It is important that we remove any barriers to getting homes built. We will, however, strongly resist the suggestion of blanket changes to policies on compulsory purchase of land for house building. This should only ever be a last resort. Councils should be focused on establishing effective partnerships with local landowners not seeking to forcibly remove their property.”  

On rented homes

“Landlords in rural areas tend to seek long term tenants. Private rented homes in rural areas are unique in that the average tenancy length is 7.6 years compared to the national average of just 18 months. However, we will urge government to be cautious in seeking to regulate or force landlords into longer agreements as this could be significantly counter-productive.”

On business rates

“Another year sees yet another inadequate partial intervention on business rates. Businesses struggling to absorb dramatic rates bill increases imposed this April, hoped for a complete freeze in rates increases planned for next year. Instead, the shift from an increase linked to the retail price index (4%) to the consumer price index (2.8%) is merely doing the right thing, but almost a decade too late.

“The shift to a three-yearly revaluation is a positive step. We must never again see the dislocation caused by the seven year delay in revaluations experienced in 2016. However, the key will be not the frequency of the revaluation but the quality. Too many rural businesses suffer from inaccurate ratings.

“The campaign for more radical reform has to carry on for another year.”

On connectivity

“Rural people will raise a wry smile at the promise of next generation 5G mobile coverage as the much of countryside struggles to get even basic coverage. 5G investment must not come at the cost of delivering the well overdue connections that rural areas need.”