A RURAL insurer has shared their view on the Autumn statement, which was delivered by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt on Wednesday (November 22). 

Farm workers, partners, agricultural contractors and sole traders were all given a national insurance cut - but the impact is limited by frozen thresholds. 

The headline announcement was to reduce Class 1 employees national insurance from 12% to 10%. Mr Hunt also also reduced Class 4 national insurance for the self-employed from 9% to 8% and abolished Class 2 self-employed national insurance. 

There was also an extension announced until 2024/25 on the current 75% relief on business rates up to £110,000. NFU Mutual says this could impact farmers who have diversified into farm shops, cafes or leisure facilities. 

As well as this, alcohol duty was frozen until August 2024. 

Farm specialist at NFU Mutual, Chris Walsh, added: “For farmers that have diversified into farm shops, cafes and leisure facilities, the extension of the current 75% relief on business rates of up to £110,000 for 2024-2025 will be welcome news.

“Meanwhile, those producing beer, cider, wine, or spirits may be helped by the freeze on alcohol duty until 1 August 2024.”

During the Autumn Statement, there was no mention of the predicted changes to inheritance tax, or the decision on how Agricultural Property Relief would be applied to Environmental Land Management schemes. These decisions have been deferred until the spring.

Sean McCann, chartered financial planner at NFU Mutual, said: “The Chancellor mentioned the farmers who keep food on our plates when he announced cuts to self-employed national insurance, which he claims will save an average of £350 per year.

“While this is welcome, it’s important to remember that national insurance thresholds remain frozen until 2028, which will increase national insurance bills as earnings rise to keep pace with inflation.

“Employees will benefit from the change in January, while the self-employed won’t receive their cuts until April.

“With the Chancellor’s statement focused on backing business growth it’s surprising he didn’t go further and reduce employer’s national insurance too.

“It was disappointing there was no further detail on how Agricultural Property Relief will be applied to land taken out of agricultural production under some Environmental Land Management schemes, with that announcement being deferred until spring.

“Farmers and landowners desperately need confirmation so they can plan accordingly for the future.”