LANDOWNERS were given a boost in this week's Spring Budget as it was confirmed agricultural property relief (APR) will apply to the government’s Environmental Land Management schemes (ELMs).

However, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt also said he was abolishing the favourable tax treatment of furnished holiday lets, which will impact those who have diversified into holiday accommodation.

Elsewhere, Mr Hunt cut National Insurance contributions by 2 per cent for employees and the self-employed, reformed child benefit tax, and announced he would introduce a British ISA for investors.

On APR, Mr Hunt announced it will be extended from April 2025 to include land managed under environmental schemes. This will include the Countryside Stewardship scheme (and other stewardship schemes) as well as the England Woodland Creation Offer. The extension also applies to the rest of the UK.

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) president, Victoria Vyvyan, said the group was 'pleased' to see the relief extended.

"This is welcome news and will help farm businesses deliver environmental benefits as well as food production," she said.

However, one of the Chancellor’s biggest announcements in today's Budget was to abolish the favourable tax treatment of furnished holiday lets from April 2025.

Victoria added: "The Chancellor is squeezing holiday let owners and stifling businesses that create jobs and support the rural economy." 

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow, whose portfolio includes forestry, said: “We’ve made our commitment to farmers and landowners taking part in our Environmental Land Managers Schemes clear – we will support you, invest in you and reward your action in supporting our ambitious targets for the environment and climate. 

Forestry Journal: Jeremy Hunt delivered his Spring Budget this week Jeremy Hunt delivered his Spring Budget this week (Image: House of Commons/UK Parliament/PA Wire)

“Now we are going further, as announced in the 2024 Budget, land used as part of ELM will now be in scope for Agricultural Property Relief, meaning this land is eligible to be passed on free of Inheritance Tax. 

"It pays to be part of ELM and we will continue to support our farmers and landowners to improve and conserve the natural environment alongside food production. I would also encourage farmers to take another look at some of the longer-term investment decisions such as tree planting in light of this announcement."