Hello everybody I'm Alex Smith a partner in the construction team and managing director here at Shakespeare Martineau. Now. I'm delighted to be joined by my colleague Peter Snodgrass whose partner and head of our agriculture team talk about important considerations for Farm owners Peters over 22 years experience advising on all aspects of your property, including Farm Partnerships and business tenants before we start you'll see a queen Q&A icon on your screen, please use this to ask any questions.
I'll respond to those directly after the session.
Watch your mouth, man. Some say that again because it's time to build before we start you'll see a Q&A icon on your screen. Please use this to ask any questions about response to all of these directly. And after the session, we will a number of questions which I'll be asking patreon and you'll come back obviously, but this is answers. So we're looking forward to explain as much as we possibly can in relation to the things that you are important to you. So first and foremost and one of the questions is I'm a landowner who is already has land that's been promoted the tone.
What's the current situation with the planning process and how planning applications have been submitted being dealt with by the local planning authorities?
Thanks, Alex. My colleagues in our planning practice are telling me that it's a varying a lot throughout the country Heath local authorities responding to the climate crisis in a slightly different way General day-to-day processing can is something since his be almost unaffected but within those official determination periods, there are typically specifically think things which are causing problems, especially because of the social distancing advice. So the fact that it's difficult to hold.
Planning committee meetings and it's difficult to get document signed and witnessed. Those are practical issues which are the setting progressing planning matters. This is being addressed to some degree by the local planning authorities taking on the important new legislation allowing video conferencing for planning meetings. Some authorities are very proactive about that and getting a hit and others are reacting much more slowly and their backlog sir.
Building up as a result. It did varies enormously between the different councils. Okay. Thanks Peter. I appreciate that was that's how things are going in relation to the actual planning authorities themselves that you know from my own experience. I know that the private sector is facing its own challenges. Okay.
Can you elaborate in relation to some of those well party, it's almost a sort of physical problem with preparing and submitting applications because the businesses are furloughed staff in quite significant numbers, but they're also Difficulties directly connected with a lockdown for example, if you've got to assess traffic noise or air quality data accumulated well to make your product planning application which are very significant issues in planning applications these days the material when you've got the data you've got for the lockdown period is not going to be representative of the typical Baseline levels. So those sort of issues which make it much more difficult together.
The planning applications in but government and the industry are working together to try and overcome these issues because the derivative delivery of housing remains a crucial issue for our nation. Okay. We're also assuming that I'm able to get an implant missions through that last one. That's absolutely fine. But they cancel one stage until further all that really. I've got some land I'm a landowner. I'm looking to have my own and promoted for development. Are there any opportunities do you think at the moment?
Well, these are Student 2 times as they say with developers and promoted facing great challenges as other businesses are however our team here planning and development team are still seeing a good deal of activity deals being agreed and progressed especially if land is being taken for a longer-term planning objective and government's recent announcement announcements last week reopening the housing market.
Is indicative that that that is a sector which is going to be opened sooner rather than later. So if you've got land which has that strategic value it's worth having conversations now with prospective developers. Okay. I know what you're saying relationships at the housing housing sites that you know, most of them have been closed for a while and now they're only really starting to beginning to open.
So what do you think the implications are going to be going forward well, As you say the lot of applications have had very limited process or having been halted and if you compare it to the housing trajectories against which five-year housing land Supply is assessed. You know, we're a long way behind but by that token because housing is such a priority for the nation as a whole the the T the the planning team.
Offer is saying that there will be a need to identify the prove housing schemes as some Pace going forward and we do see evidence of that already among seen it some of the big developers. Okay. Thank you. So taking a different a different tag. So I'm a landowner. I've got some land and but in order to do something with these I need to link up with other landowners and how can we make sure that we are being treated fairly and realized best value? What can we do? What can we do? What can we use?
As you say Alex in there's no reason why a planning Prospect really involved a single land a rather than more than one landowner and that does raise this very important problem about how you make sure that the parties who need to be involved with any development. We're going to work together and collaborate.
So the typical means of doing this are either collaboration agreements where the owners retain their own individual blocks of land, but they collaborate with each other but also there's an alternative solution which is for all the land which is hopeful for the planning will be put into a land pool trust and both of these systems ensure that the land landowners work together, they sharing the costs but they also share in the profits and then you have an equalizing UV according to the area developed a method of spitting up the proceeds now taxation.
It's very important for these landowners because you don't want to find the youth Bank fifty percent tax on your takings from land sold for development. So it is possible to ask the revenue for a decision in advance. So that landing and those are tax liability in the event of sales further down the line. Although the current crisis is slowing the process down still it's worth looking at and investigating these possibilities.
As we said there are already most of the builders are still looking for development opportunities and land banking to some degree point that you need to have your ducks in a row as a landowner before you get too involved with a an arrangement with a developer because you've got some look at all the aspects including attacks. Okay. Thank you. Peter will move on to a different topic now then I think look a business immigration.
So with the UK leaving the EU on the 31st of January 20 What's the position today for farming businesses who employ large proportion of European workers safety? Obviously during the growing season to plant Harvest pick and then pack crops for distribution. Well, except so far.
There's no change to the immigration requirements for employing the EU seasonal workers for the rest of this year 2020 any EU citizen can simply reduce their passport or national identity card as evidence of their permission to work in the UK, and this is due to To the free movement continuing for all workers until the end of the transition period which ends at the end of this year. Okay. So what's going to happen then well, they're after you seasonal workers will be subject to the new immigration system that's recently added second reading the legislation will end free movement in the end at the end of this year and lay the foundation for a new points based immigration system.
So this new system will treat EU and non-eu citizens exactly the same way and it will completely change the way in which all migrants have to show that they are eligible to work in the UK helpful. So moving on and so what can you you seasonal workers do today in preparation for the end of free movement good question because this is going to be facing many Farm businesses in 2021.
And if they got workers who they particularly want to keep within their by then they need to be looking at this scheme, which I'm going to describe in a moment. So this is the government EU settlement scheme, which was launched as long ago as March 2019, but this is a registration scheme that all EU and certain other citizens must apply for if they want to continue to live and work in the UK after the 30th of June 20 21. That's when the scheme will close.
So they must have put an application before then and if they don't put in there Station which obviously would have to be successful is a don't put it in a te get get it granted. Then they'll have no lawful right to live or work in the UK when the new system takes effect, and that just to remind its will take effect from the 1st of January 2021. Okay, so no, thank thanks for that Peter. So they're moving forward then what's going to happen to me you seasonal workers of coming to work in the UK from the first of January 2021. Well, they will be able to apply for a seasonal.
Worker visa under the new immigration system at the moment. There's a pilot scheme for seasonal workers in agriculture specifically for them and it started off as 2500 and it's gone up to 10,000 places a year being allowed the CLA the country land Association will rather land and Business Association estimates that the number of workers required is more likely be 70,000 or even more so we'll need to watch this.
Facebook is the 10,000 is not anything like the requirement of British agriculture. But anyway, the aim of the scheme is to test the ability of the new process for alleviating shortages of workers in the Horticultural in Old cultural sector particularly by allowing pilot operators. So there's going to be a selected operators to sponsor migrant seasonal workers for up to six months.
Okay, so you just mentioned about The parking scheme. Can you explain that a bit further, please? Yeah, the pilot is going to include Growers of feel vegetables including herbes salads protective vegetables and it also includes food grown in greenhouses. So the pilot will cover grows of soft fruit Orchard fruits mushrooms and Vine grown Foods.
Is it just a big to give a little extra clarification the home office to find seasonal workers and I quote employment which fluctuates or is restricted according to the season or time of the year logical enough, but the corollary of that is that if employment is required all year round all restricted office or admin work. It won't come within the terms of the pilot.
So yeah that that It's basically how it's going to work. And so the pilot will then be administered and scrutinized by defra to see how well it works. And obviously if it's successful then it'll be rolled out more widely. Okay? Thank you. So moving forward away then from EU seasonal type workers. So focusing on employees here within the UK within farming businesses.
Katy Perry form is going to find situations where they've had to close premises. For example closing Cafe and a farm shop. They may well be able to redeploy those that worked in the Cafe's to the farm shot it chop it sells but you know if sales a sale was a dam in the farm shops, and then what can they what can they do with employees particularly if they don't want to make them redundant? Right?
Well, this is going to be a situation which many businesses are facing at the moment and The government's basic response to this is to be to introduce a job retention scheme, which is called naturally enough the coronavirus job retention scheme under this scheme. Basically, if you've got employees who need handle enough work to continuous full-time employees. Then the government will allow them to be furloughed as it's called and the government is actually putting up 80 percent of their wages.
Copter maximum 2500 per month. So this scheme has already been in effect for some time. It's been backdated to the first of March 20 20. It's going to last until the end of July and then until October on a revised basis. So it's called a good number of months yet to run but we don't yet know how the degree to which the government is going to continue to fund because it's a very expensive scheme. The main purpose of the scheme is too.
To avoid employers who cannot pay their staff the proper wages because there isn't enough work to do to enable them not to make them redundant. So that's why these employees are being as it's called furloughed and then they can remain employees even though they're not doing any work. Okay, so that's so how is it? How is it how accessible is it to employers?
Well, the gunman was to make it very accessible, but it's not just it's not An open checkbook, you've got to show certain things. So for example, every employee who enters into this has to have a p aye payroll scheme and that meant they must have had that in place at least by the 28th of February 20 20.
They also have to have a UK bank account that shouldn't be too difficult and then the employees for whom you can make the claim for the job under the job retention scheme have to have been on your a payroll from the 28th from before the 20 or above or 28th of February 20 20. So, you know, there are certain limits on what you can do to this scheme is being updated the whole time and will continue until that that will continue at least until October. Okay. Thank you for that. Hopefully people will take away. It will be able to take advantage of the scheme. So that the best they possibly can and moving onto another employment related question this in turtle.
His own from some of the you see some workarounds that we've talked about it earlier on if people find themselves in situations where they're struggling to recruit workers to assist with harvesting fruit vegetables, but they're actually approached by other workers have been furloughed from a nearby employer. What can they can they work for and about those people that's a good question and an interesting one because obviously food production is such a key issue and the answer is that in principle? Yes, you can take up.
Employment elsewhere. So if you are placed on further by a principal employer, but you wanted to do some work and it this will be king or whatever to gain income then you can do that. The only Proviso is a you must check with your existing employer that your current Employment contract allows you to do that other work. So you need to check that with you your current employer then I think thank you to those. Those are the answers to all these questions is very helpful. And is there anything else that you think that?
And those listening to the webinar need to be aware of I think I'll just sort of panning back from the immediate situation one issue, which were coming across a great deal in the in the agriculture team is Partnerships family farming Partnerships where they have not got a partnership agreement and maybe have accounts which give a misleading picture as regards ownership of the farm ownership of the business.
I haven't got the time to go into in any detail in this webinar, but there are questions about whether there is a partnership agreement what the property Deeds say and then what the accounts say and these three elements must be integrated if they're not then it's a recipe for confusion and upholstery that often means litigation, which is very expensive. So especially whilst things within a family with the family Vale box.
Position usually the case with British Farm Partnerships, then that is the time to get these things sorted out. So everybody knows where they stand and that makes it much less stressful not speak of inexpensive and literatures. If one of the partners has to leave one of the ponds dies any of these things happen.
So this is something which we would really encourage Farmers to take seriously and and to look at if they have It already addressed it, and I thank you Peter. I appreciate we've covered an awful lot in relation to development questions business immigration employment, and now just covering on on Partnerships and thank you very much for your time. It's been really appreciated. So those are things this does bring us the end of our webinar. We hope you found it useful and relevant in the current circumstances.
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So also if you'd like to do so, which would likely do please join us on our conversations on LinkedIn and on Twitter Peter. Once again, thank you very much. And thank you very much for listening and joining us today. Thank you.