Keep calm and plan for the future: Brexit

On 29 March 2017, the government triggered Article 50, starting the formal process for the UK to leave the EU. This will happen on 29 March 2019. Brexit: a little word with big consequences and a lot of uncertainty.

All change

At the moment, it is estimated that there are around 12,000 EU regulations in force in the UK, and the government believes that it will probably require over 1,000 new statutory instruments to facilitate our exit. The Withdrawal Bill is intended to ‘ensure that the UK exits the EU with certainty, continuity and control.’

The government hopes for a transition period to help businesses and others ease into the new post-Brexit era. The length of the transition period is set to be under two years, ending on 31 December 2020.

But whatever the agreements ultimately hammered out, one thing is certain. Businesses will have new sets of rules to accommodate, and considerable change to adapt to. VAT and customs duties are front runners for change, since they are based on EU law.

Attention farming and land management clients

Farming and land management are areas where the government has already started to give some indication of what a post-Brexit future might look like. The Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, has reiterated that funding for farming will be protected ‘in cash terms - for the whole of this Parliament - until 2022.’ However, as NFU Scotland point out, ‘change is inevitable’ and this year’s modifications to the Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS) in England may suggest the way ahead.

CSS provides financial incentives for farmers and land managers in England to look after the environment through a variety of schemes, from woodland creation to conserving wildlife habitats. The scheme has been simplified to make it easier to apply for, and is currently open for applications. 2018 paper application packs are available from Natural England until 31 May. Applications can also be made online, but here you may need a pre-application pack to help. The deadline for all applications is 31 July 2018.

Analogous schemes are also open for other parts of the UK. In Northern Ireland, farming clients could consider the Environmental Farming Scheme (Wider level), for application later this year. In Wales, Glastir is a sustainable land management scheme offering financial support to farmers and land managers. Its Small Grants (Water) is expected to open to applications in July 2018. In Scotland, the Scottish Rural Development Programme runs a range of schemes, such as the Agri-Environment Climate Scheme (AECS). AECS applications for collaborative projects involving five or more businesses are accepted until 31 May, as are applications for Improving Public Access.

We are always happy to advise on any aspect of farm accounts and taxation, especially as clients look to the future and post-Brexit funding.

Planning for future success

Amid the change and uncertainty, it is more important than ever to stay in the driving seat of your business. Accurate, up to date management information, robust budgets and forecasts will be key tools for any business wanting to minimise risk and maximise opportunity. A survey by the Institute of Directors suggests that 30% of larger businesses have already drawn up contingency plans, and that around 60% of SMEs intend to do so. Making plans to negotiate the run-up to Brexit and beyond can play a critical part in ensuring future success. Do please contact us for help in assessing how Brexit might impact your business and drawing up a contingency plan.

For now, the message is keep calm - and plan for the future.

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