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Rural views on the Reform manifesto

Posted on 21 June 2024

Many areas are seeing a surge in support for Reform according to recent polls. The party is vocal in its support for country sports and farming, so we have examined their policies from a rural viewpoint.

Starting with tax, Reform pledges to:

  • Increase the nil rate band for inheritance tax (IHT) from £325,000 to £2 million
  • Reduce the IHT rate to 20%
  • Reduce rates of stamp duty land tax (SDLT) to 0% below £750,000; 2% from £750,000-£1.5m and 4% over £1.5 million
  • Abolish VAT for tourists
  • Lift the VAT threshold to £150,000
  • Give 20% income tax relief on private healthcare and insurance costs
  • Introduce a 25% transferable marriage tax allowance
  • Cut business rates to zero on farm shops and provide tax breaks to smaller food processors and abattoirs
  • Cut fuel duty by 20p per litre
  • Remove VAT on energy bills and
  • Simplify the tax regime as a whole

Agriculture receives special attention, with a range of policies:

  • A boosted £3 billion farming budget, prioritising farming over "solar farms and rewilding"
  • Subsidies will move back to direct payments and climate-related farming subsidies will be scrapped
  • Reform of planning law to support farm shops and policies to help farmers sell direct to consumers
  • A target of 70% British food policy to promote food security
  • Taxpayer funded organisations will be required to source 75% of their food from the UK
  • A pledge to cut red tape for farmers from HMRC and the British Cattle Movement Service
  • A pledge to protect country sports

Housing comes into focus with a proposal to fast-track new housing on brownfield sites and infrastructure projects. The Renters Reform Bill is to be scrapped, allowing landlords to evict tenants on the standard two months' notice.

The real focus is energy, where along with dropping the net zero target, Reform will scrap renewable energy subsidies in favour of investment in fossil fuels, supporting licences for fracking, "clean coal mining" and nuclear energy.

Overall, the pro-farming message and liberalising of rules for small businesses will draw attention from rural landowners. However, the party's environmental stance is likely to alienate many, particularly those concerned about climate change and interested in Natural Capital, biodiversity, and regenerative agriculture.

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