A new member of the team…

 

A Shropshire farmer’s son has returned to the county and joined our team here at Madeley’s Chartered Surveyors in Much Wenlock.
Tom Bayliss, 24, studied at Harper Adams, studying a BSC (Hons) in Rural Enterprise and Land Management before taking a graduate job in Lincolnshire in 2013 doing estate management for the Tollemache family.
He has now taken up the post of Trainee Rural Surveyor.
Tom has experienced managing a 30,000 acre estate with a 10,000 acre in hand farm, 300 residential properties, commercial properties, tenant farmers, large areas of woodland and a commercial partridge and pheasant shoot.
His experience will give him a great start in the world of rural surveyors and we are sure he is going to be an extremely welcome addition to the team.
Tom grew up in Ludlow, attending Ludlow Church of England School, where his father runs a beef and arable farm as well as recently diversifying into commercial fishery, a farm shop and caravan site.
He is currently vice chairman of Ludlow Young Farmers Club and a player for Ludlow RFC.
Tom says he moved home after living in Lincolnshire and is very pleased to be back living and working in Shropshire.
He said coming to Madeleys is an exciting opportunity for him as he is “joining a fantastic company with diverse clients which will give me the experience I need to pass my qualifications and become a chartered surveyor.”

RPA suspends online aspect of Basic Payment Scheme

It has been a tough job for agents ever since the new BPS online payment scheme was announced and today the Rural Payments Agency announced its suspension – months after we said we felt it was too big a task being attempted in not enough time.
We have managed to work with our clients over the last few months on online mapping and we hope that will not be lost but we welcome the move to extend the deadline and remove the online aspect of the scheme.
The scheme officially came into force on New Year’s Day but is has been three months of delays and problems.
At Madeleys we have been involved with subsidies for many years and when the new system was announced we felt that having no paper alternative was the wrong step to take.
Introducing a new system is highly complex and to do it over a short amount of time with only online facilities available was too big a task.
Consultations with agents, who complete 75 per cent of applications, did not take place. For us this outcome was highly predictable.
Farmers in England are now being contacted – by email – to be told they can submit their claims using traditional paper forms. The new system will be used only for farmers to register and download forms to print out.
An announcement today on gov.uk said that while the “core and registration parts of the Rural Payments system are working well, there have been performance problems with the online interface that farmers and agents use”. The RPA is now offering farmers and their agents the use of established forms and processes to complete their claims by the deadline. The RPA will then input this data on to the system.
The RPA says it has ensured it has the resources it needs to undertake this work on time. This means that it will be able to make payments to farmers from December 2015.
Apart from registering, farmers will not be asked to enter any further data online now. Data that has already been entered onto the system has been saved and will be used.
For more information about the changes and what to do next contact us on 01952 727007 or visit https://www.gov.uk/government/news/rural-payments-agency-announces-new-approach-to-help-farmers-meet-basic-payment-scheme-deadline

Countryside Stewardship – will you get your share?

 

Countryside Stewardship is expected to contribute around ÂŁ900 million to rural businesses to help them improve the countryside environment.
But only if farmers, land managers, land owners and tenants actually apply for the monies available.
We are assisting our clients to ensure all of the relevant paperwork is filled in and urging all farmers to make sure they know what they have to do.
The new scheme replaces Environmental Stewardship (ES), the English Woodland Grant Scheme (EWGS) and capital grants from the Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) programme.
While these schemes will still continue until their expiration date it should be noted there will be changes to the way you receive your payments.
Historically when these schemes were applied for, money was automatically sent out each year.
But now, you will need to submit a claim form annually before May 15, via the forms soon to be released by the RPA.
Many of you in schemes will have never had to apply for annual payments before, but if you do not do it this year you will not get the funds you are entitled to.
If your existing agreements expire you can start applying for the new scheme ‘Countryside Stewardship Scheme’ from July 2015 with applications for Higher Tier and Mid Tier agreements (similar to the current higher level and entry level stewardship).
These agreements will start on January 1, 2016, and payments will also begin in 2016.
Together with ongoing ES and EWGS agreements, Countryside Stewardship will be the main way of helping farmers and land managers deliver against a wide range of local, national and international environmental commitments.
This means the money is there for farmers and land-owners across the board.
The new scheme will help wildlife and nature, pollinators, forestry and water and flooding.
The proposed payment rates for Countryside Stewardship have been published on GOV.UK at www.gov.uk/cap-reform
Those wishing to apply for the Countryside Stewardship have until June to prepare the application, July to September to apply online – which is the only way to apply for the grants – October is when the appraisals are planned and it is hoped in November and December offers will be made to applicants before the multi-year agreements start in 2016.
We would urge you to look into the application process and what needs to be done as soon as possible to ensure you are able to claim all you are eligible for.
We are available on 01952 727007 if you require more information or assistance.

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 paul@madeleys.co.uk 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 : https://www.gov.uk/government/news/rpa-announces-2014-sps-entitlement-values

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.