WHILE there was not a lot for farmers to get excited about in Wednesday’s Budget, there was a few measures which will ease tax bills, with one of the biggest savings being the Chancellor avoiding increases in duty on petrol and diesel, which would have hit country people very hard, writes Douglas MacSkimming.

NFU Mutual’s rural affairs specialist, Tim Price, said: “Those running small farms and rural businesses will heave a sigh of relief that they won‘t be faced with expensive accounting admin as the Chancellor has decided to keep the threshold for VAT registration at the current £85,000.

There was good news for self-employed farmers and all those who are employees, as the Chancellor has stuck to the Tory’s promise to keep increasing personal tax allowances - they will be going up to £11,850 for basic rate taxpayers and £46,350 – which means a few hundred pounds more out of the tax man’s grasp.

“No increase in fuel duty rates for petrol or diesel is a huge relief for farmer and their families who currently have no alternative to using these fuels to work the land and get about in the countryside," added Mr Price.

NFU Scotland chief executive, Scott Walker, said: “For all the Chancellor’s talk of a Budget that builds an economy fit for the future, NFUS is disappointed with his announcement, which is very light on any tangible measures that will excite and energise farmers, crofters, the agri-food sector or the rural economy.

“However, with industry desperate for progress on Brexit, we note Mr Hammond’s comments that he believes the economy is ready for EU exit and a “global Britain” will be “an outward looking, free-trading nation.

“Positive announcements were few and far between, but cancellation of planned fuel duty rises for petrol and diesel vehicles is welcome, as is the extension of the rural fuel duty rebate scheme for the Scottish islands to 2023.”