Shropshire farmers should register as soon as possible…


Around 60,000 emails have been issued today telling farmers they can now register for the new Basic Payment Scheme – which officially launched on January 1st.
Online registrations were due to begin last November but issues with the new digital registration system have delayed the process.
When first announced online registration was the only way to apply for the subsidies that many farmers depend on, but the process can now be done over the telephone if you have claimed the payment before.
An RPA spokesman said the new digital service was being built in a way that allowed the agency to respond to feedback and make improvements.
The telephone service was an alternative option for people wanting to confirm their identity and was introduced when the RPA started inviting agents to apply.
But anyone claiming the payment for the first time must still go through the online process – which is still experiencing issues.
The concerns over the alternative option of the telephone are that the RPA does not have the necessary telephone manpower to register thousands of farmer applications in a short period of time to then allow the farmer to get on and review data and then build up their claims.
We are advising all of our clients, and all farmers, in Shropshire to get registered as soon as they can to try and avoid these potential problems.
Once the 60,000 emails, and the letters set to follow them later this week, are acted upon there will be thousands of people trying to get through over the telephone – and is likely to lead to long waits and a backlog.
We would urge people to begin the registration process as soon as they can to ensure they make the best efforts to be registered in time to complete the claim.
For those that must register online there are still a lot of problems to overcome.
We have already experienced difficulties in getting the identities of clients cleared using the Verify website – despite having all of the information available at hand.

Marking eight years of Madeleys…


Madeleys Chartered Surveyors has celebrated its eighth birthday, and we want to say a big thank you to all of our clients.
We opened our doors on the High Street in Much Wenlock in December 2007 and eight years on we are going from strength to strength with 2015 expected to be the best year yet.
For us 2014 has been an interesting year with the huge changes as the Single Payment Scheme comes to an end and new online registration comes in.
We have also seen wide changes in local and national planning policy meaning our work has been extremely varied in this section, with planning applications, conversions, solar panels and renewable energy on the agenda.
We are looking forward to 2015 and embracing all the further challenges it will bring – including the preparation for the new Countryside Stewardship Scheme which is set to launch in January 2016.
We want to thank all of the clients we have worked with over the past year. We know landowners and farmers in Shropshire will agree that the last 12 months have seen significant changes but we hope our professional guidance and support has made these changes easier.
We are great believers in business owners being given the opportunity to do what they do best and we’d rather the farmers and landowners doing what they love rather than spending valuable time in the office which is not always their preferred surroundings.
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year.

Looking forward to a record breaking 2015…and a new member of the team!


Well, 2014 has been a fantastic year here at Madeleys and the signs are that 2015 could be even busier.
The farming landscape has continued to change over the past 12 months, and with the introduction of the Basic Payment Scheme in January – and the new Countryside Stewardship Scheme starting in 2016 – things are not going to slow down.
There are changes on the way locally too, with the council’s SAMDev planning policy due to be adopted which will assign lots of new sites for development.
That will provide challenges and opportunities for farmers and rural businesses, and as always we would advise speaking to your chartered surveyor if you have any questions about how planning policy may affect you.
We have some changes of our own taking place too, with Angela Cantrill, our senior surveyor, going on maternity leave in January. It’s an exciting and happy time for Angela and her family, and wish them all the very best.
In the meantime, we are advertising for a new temporary member of staff to cover for Angela while she is off – and there is every chance that the position could become permanent if 2015 turns out to be as busy as we expect.
The temporary position is a real opportunity for someone to join our small team and help to provide a first class, personable service.
Experience is important for this particular post due to the demands of the forthcoming months, and we would be delighted to hear from anyone interested in applying.
For more information, email or call 01952 727007.

RPA announce SFP entitlement values

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has announced the values of entitlements for the three English regions under the 2014 Single Payment Scheme (SPS).

€ 251.39 for non-SDA (Severely Disadvantaged Areas)

€ 201.32 for upland SDA, other than moorland

€ 35.26 for upland SDA moorland

The exchange rate which will be applied is €1= £0.77730 (based on the value of the Euro as of 30 September 2014).

These figures will be used to calculate claimants 2014 SPS payments, with the payment window opening in December.

Ian Hewett from the RPA gave some good news as some customers will be due an additional payment due to unused funds from last years financial discipline deduction. Customers should see the additional payment of 3.1 %

see the full story here :

Are you paying too much council tax?


Are you paying more council tax than you should be? Should you be challenging your council tax band in order to save yourself money?
The council tax bill is often one of the pieces of paper received through the post and filed immediately with regular payments on standing order or direct debit.
But many farmers may well be paying above their dues when it comes to council tax – because of the nature of farmhouses and the surrounding land.
If you have become the tax payer in the last six months it is worth challenging the band if you believe the property could be in the wrong one for any reason.
Those living in the countryside can have the value of their homes affected by a number of factors, including new roads and developments in the area, electricity pylons and phone masts.
Developments to the property also make a difference – if any part of the home has been demolished for any reason the changes may mean the home has dropped a band.
And it may be that these changes were made well before you moved in – or even that you are unaware of the changes that have been made – and the council tax band has never been challenged.
Homeowners who may be in this position, such as those who are in close proximity to recent big developments or relatively new phones masts or pylons, should challenge the band.
We always advise clients however that it is extremely important to remember that they must continue paying their council tax bill while this challenge takes place.
The band can be challenged by asking the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) to check the valuation if you think it was valued incorrectly, or in certain circumstances you can make a formal challenge. The latter is the route taken if you are the new council taxpayer for the property and you disagree with the band.
The VOA can tell homeowners how their council tax band has been worked out and they can review the band if information is provided that suggests it is wrong.
A popular reason for homeowners to suspect the band is wrong is if similar homes nearby are in a different band, however this does not always apply to those living in rural areas where each property can be very different and affected by different external factors.
If they agree the band is wrong, they’ll put it right – and the service is free. The local council will then update the council tax bill.
Feel free to get in touch with us if you think you may be paying too much council tax and we can start the ball rolling.

Farmers should have their say on future of farms in the county.


We are urging Shropshire farmers to have their say on the consultation regarding the future of council-owned farms and smallholdings.
Shropshire Council is currently inviting the public’s opinion on what should be done with its 410-hectare agricultural estate, currently let out to many farmers taking their first steps into business.
One of the options is to sell the land on the open market, which we believe could put the future of the farms in jeopardy.
Another is for the council to maintain ownership – a costly measure at a time when savings must be made across the public sector.
The third option is for the estate to be transferred to a ‘preferred organisation’, which would maintain it and secure access to farming for future generations.
We feel it it vital that farmers in the county involve themselves in the consultation, which is taking place right now and until October 31st. We would urge our agricultural community here in Shropshire to make its views known to protect farming for future generations.
Council farms should be retained in some way and made available, as it is a vital route for new entrants to farming to gain a step on the business ladder.
Selling off the farms may generate income and, given ongoing repairs required on the farms, the budgets may stack up better but if that route is taken, it no longer offers what council-owned farms should be used to achieve.
Council-owned farms should be a way of giving aspiring farmers who do not have the family connections to take on or the capital to privately rent a holding a way into farming and a career in agriculture.
If they succeed on a council-owned farm, they then have the scope and opportunity to grow their business and move on to larger council holdings or even private farms, which makes good business management and sense.
It should be the council’s aim and policy to encourage this sort of behaviour, which is the view taken by other counties not too far away from here.
None of the three options are ‘ideal’ for farmers but option three – for the farming estate to be transferred to an organisation who would maintain it to secure farming for future generations – seems to offer the best compromise.
If the smallholdings are retained and the correct objectives and policy for renting them out is maintained by the new owner, then this will hopefully remain successful in encouraging new tenants into farming.
Keith Barrow, Leader of Shropshire Council, has said the consultation sets out a number of options available which have been drawn up after much deliberation.
He said they have sought to outline the options they are considering, and identify the key advantages, disadvantages and potential impact of each option.
They will consider the responses to the consultation and take its outcome into account before making a final decision.
A paper will then be presented to full council on December 18th, with a recommendation on the future direction of the estate.
The Shropshire Council Smallholdings consultation can be found here, where you can add your views to the proposals.

Think carefully when considering solar panels…


Farmers considering involvement in solar power schemes need to think carefully about the implications before signing up to an agreement.
New plans to ensure more agricultural land is dedicated to growing crops and food, meaning farmers will lose their right to claim subsidies for fields filled with solar panels, are not the only problems landowners face.
Farmers should also consider the implications solar panels may have on being able to achieve Agricultural Property Relief on the land for inheritance tax.
The latest changes have been made to ensure more farmland is dedicated to agriculture to help boost the food and farming industry and will come into effect from January 2015.
Farmers who choose to use fields for solar panels will not be eligible for any farm subsidy payments available through the Common Agricultural Policy for that land.
Farmers and landowners should not sign up to an option agreement until they have consulted their land agent and accountant.
Before anything is signed it is extremely important that the overall tax implications are discussed and understood.
Environment Secretary, Elizabeth Truss said she is “committed to food production in this country and it makes my heart sink to see row upon row of solar panels where once there was a field of wheat or grassland for livestock to graze”.
She said that is the reason for the scrapping of farming subsidies for solar fields.
The reform follows other government measures designed to end support for solar farms in agricultural fields. The Department for Energy and Climate Change recently announced that renewable energy subsidies for new large-scale solar farms will end in April 2015.
This year, the Department for Communities and Local Government amended planning rules to ensure that whenever possible solar installations are not put in fields that could be used for farming.
The changes the government is making are expected to slow down the growth of solar farms in the countryside in England. There are currently 250 installed, with the biggest covering as much as 100 hectares.

Find out more about how the new Common Agricultural Policy is being implemented in England.

Secluded land for sale in Codsall



A parcel of land in a secluded spot on the outskirts of Codsall is expected to attract plenty of interest.
We are marketing the land at Mill Lane, Codsall, which is ideal for agricultural or equestrian use.
The land is 3.52 acres (1.42 hectares), has a guide price of ÂŁ45,000 and is pastureland with mature hedgerows and secure fencing.
We are expecting strong interest because it’s versatile land in an excellent location.
It would be ideal for use as pony paddocks as there is easy access on to quiet lanes and good footpaths and bridleways.
It is a nice secluded spot with boundaries of post and rail fencing and mature hedgerows.
There is also two accesses off Mill Lane, which allows easy access for vehicles using a private track.
Equestrian land is always popular, particularly in areas close to Wolverhampton and Codsall is a popular area for people looking for land suitable for equine use as it is in easy reach of Wolverhampton.
It is also quite close to Telford and other parts of east Shropshire, so land often gets snapped up quite quickly.
More information and details of the land can be found here.

Think carefully on double funding reply…



Farmers across the Midlands who have an Entry Level Scheme agreement are being asked to declare which route they want to take with regard to ‘double funding’ issues.
Letters from Natural England have been received by those with an ELS agreement with a start date of January 1st, 2012, or later setting out what they need to do to identify whether they are affected by double funding and if so, what choices are available to them.
Double funding is where you will technically be getting paid twice for the same piece of ground, for example if an individual uses an area of ground in their new BPS claim as a ‘Greening’ measure which is also available as an ELS option under their agreement.
However Natural England and DEFRA are taking a blanket approach, which means even if you did not use the option under your ELS agreement towards your BPS greening you will still have reductions made.
We would urge all of those who receive a letter to talk it through with a professional to weigh up which route forward is best for them and what to do next – this is not a decision that should be made hastily.
It is not a simple yes or no as it will have knock on effects to the whole business due to the reduced income on the ground. This all needs to be thought about and discussed before a decision is made and your letter is returned.
Natural England ask that the letters are returned by November 15th declaring which route you want to take and which of the three options you have decided on – end the agreement as of January 1st, 2015, amend the agreement to add further options such as increasing the area and reducing the reductions made, or carry on the agreement with the reduced payments.
The letter explains the reductions are based on the individual agreement. This means each agreements reductions will be different so there is no correct route – it must be what suits the agreement holder.
In cases there can be some serious reductions in payments depending on which options are present in the agreement so you need to ask for advice if you do not fully understand which route you should take.
Our team are currently working through letters with numerous clients and are on hand to help if you need it. Please get in touch on 01952 727007 or email