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FARMING TALK - Employee Accommodation could be hit by tax


Careful wording of job specifications and employment contracts will be essential if employers and employees are not to be hit by recommended reforms to benefits in kind and specifically in connection with employee accommodation.

The provision of accommodation to an employee is considered a benefit in kind and is taxable as income on the employee.  The employer will also have to pay Class 1a NICs on the value of the benefit at 13.8% in 2015/16.  The average value of accommodation benefit in 2011/12 was £5,000 which would have meant a tax charge of circa £1,000 on a Basic Rate Tax Payer employee and circa £700 of Class 1a NICS due from the employer.  In all likelihood the £1,000 tax charge would hit the employer as well via an increase in salary to compensate.  

Currently workers on farms and estates often benefit through an exemption from including the value of the accommodation on their tax returns where:

  • It is necessary for the proper performance of their duties that they reside in the accommodation, or
  • The accommodation is provided so that you can perform your duties in a materially better way, and you are in the kind of employment in which it is customary for employers in that business to provide accommodation

The Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) has described the rules governing Accommodation benefits as both ‘arbitrary and inconsistent’ as well as ‘difficult to apply’ and has made a number of recommendations to how the exemptions should operate in future and to how the value of the benefit should be calculated.

They aim to distinguish more accurately between what is a ‘perk’ and what is needed to get the job done and want the exemption to consider:

  • Whether the employee is required to live in the accommodation to enable him/her to protect buildings, people or assets
  • Whether the employee is regularly required to work outside normal working hours and
  • Whether he/she is required to live in the accommodation as a result of regulatory requirements

The OTS is also recommending the introduction of open market rental value to tax non-exempt accommodation.  This is likely to produce a substantially higher tax charge than the current regime so it will be very important to ensure that exemptions are achieved under any new system and getting job specifications and employment contracts right will be essential.

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Barns attract strong interest at auction


Brook House Barns, Wootten, near Bridgnorth, sold at public auction for in excess of £300,000, without planning permission.

Balfours Property Professionals conducted the auction, of the barns, together with 2.5 acres at the Mytton and Mermaid Shrewsbury. Head of Sales, Tim Main, who conducted the auction said: “We had excellent attendance and moved the auction into the courtyard with sunshine, raising the temperature and interest of both developers and private buyers present.

“Ultimately the hammer dropped at £330,000 for the barn with 2.5 acres, which we and the vendor were very satisfied with for buildings without planning consent,” added Mr Main.

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Shropshire promoted to London buyers


Shropshire’s stunning property portfolio and healthy lifestyle will be promoted in London next week, May 13, when Balfours Property Professionals exhibit at “The Move to the Country Show.”

Alistair Hilton and Clemmie Radcliffe, town and country sales managers at Balfours will not only be promoting properties currently on their books to the London market, but also the fact that Shrewsbury came top out of 70 major towns in the UK, according to the Royal Society for Public Health, who carried out the survey.

Says Clemmie, “Potential buyers are pleasantly surprised by what Shropshire has to offer, in terms of countryside and market towns, plus of course road network. This latest accolade to Shrewsbury is another positive we can promote.”

The RSPH says that rather than simply counting the total number of different businesses on a high street, it looked at the extent to which business encouraged healthy lifestyles, promoted socialising and wellbeing and allowed greater access to health care and advice. For example leisure centres, health clubs, libraries, pubs and bars scored well, but fast food takeaways, bookmakers and pay day loans scored badly.

Alistair adds: “As it happens I moved up from London just 12 months ago with my young family. We absolutely love Shrewsbury it has a superb town park bordering the river, individual shops, good restaurants and there is lots going on. Out of town there is a diverse range of landscapes within a short distance, from South Shropshire’s Hills to the meres, mosses and woodland walks.

“I am really looking forward to the Move to the Country Show at The Chelsea Old Town Hall, because to talk the talk is just so easy,” adds Alistair. If you would like your property promoting to the London market, call Alistair or Clemmie at Balfours on 01743 353511.

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Tartan in lounge not law


Plans hatched by Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP leader to change the face of Britain would be bad news for English property transactions should they ever be implemented south of the border.

That is the message from one of the county’s leading property agents, Tim Main, head of sales at Balfours Property Professionals, says, “If the Scottish system was perfect we would have followed suit by now. I often hear people say that vendors in Scotland have peace of mind that a sale is binding the moment it is agreed, preventing buyers from pulling out.

“However in Scotland it is all about commitment of capital; you can’t make an offer until your capital is freed up which, for most of us, means you have to have sold your own house first. That puts quite a stranglehold on the progression of property sales which we don’t suffer south of the border.”

According to Tim the only reason our process is wrong is because it allows you to shop for a house before you are ready. “On balance we have a fair system in England and Wales. Of course it is frustrating when an offer falls through, however it isn’t an everyday occurrence and most sales agreed do come to a positive conclusion.”

He adds: “Tartan might be very in vogue in home décor presently, but I think we have to be very wary of any change to our property law, particularly if strong willed SNPs arrive at the Commons shortly after May 7.”

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Maple – chance to turn over a new leaf


There is something very exciting about being the first to live in a brand new home. The Maples at Pump Lane, Bicton Heath, west of Shrewsbury offers precisely this.

This newly built detached four bedroom house carries a ten year guarantee and of course there is no chain. Balfours Property Professionals town sales manager, Alistair Hilton enthuses: “This is a fabulous family home, in a great location with direct access to the playing fields, local school and just a couple of minutes’ drive from the town’s bypass with links to the midlands and the north.

Layout is equally as impressive with an entrance hall giving access to all ground floor rooms. The kitchen and breakfast room is located to the rear overlooking the garden and has bi-folding doors to the terrace. The dining area also links via double doors to the sitting room, promoting a flexible open living space.

A log burner and bay window add character in the sitting room. Downstairs living space is made complete with cloakroom and study/extra bedroom, plus a well-positioned utility linked off the kitchen and within the front of the double garage.

The master bedroom enjoys a bay window and en-suite facilities while three further bedrooms are served by the family bathroom. Ultra insulating windows, partially walled good sized garden are among other bonuses of the property.

The Maples, three miles from Shrewsbury’s High Street, is marketed with a guide price of £400,000. For more information call Alistair Hilton on 01743 353511 or visit

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Kingsland Valley cocooned convenience


Proximity, location and space are the proud boasts of 1 Red Barn Lane, tucked into the Kingsland Valley, Shrewsbury.

Vendors, Jon and Susan Good settled here 18 years ago, Jon recalls: “We were attracted to the setting and location. The property is secluded, yet only ten minutes’ walk from Grey Friars and Kingsland Bridge; we have the Rad Brook at the bottom of the garden. For entertaining all main reception rooms open onto the terrace drawing the eye across the Kingsland Valley.”

It isn’t just the location. The house lends itself to entertaining with double doors opening into the dining room and a second pair linking dining room and sitting room. The kitchen, which was refurbished in 2012 is Jon’s favourite room; triple aspect glazing, polished stone surfaces and double ovens add a very fresh touch to the house.

The kitchen and the two reception rooms each give separate access to the terrace. Says Balfours town sales manager, Alistair Hilton, “layout is excellent maximising what is a very spacious property. For anyone seeking town convenience combined with countryside feel this is the answer,” he adds.

A log-burner offers a cosy feel to the sitting room for winter evenings. Service rooms on the ground floor comprise, utility, wc and study which could double as sixth bedroom. First floor provides master and second bedroom with en-suite and dressing room facilities, there are three further bedrooms and a family bathroom.

Located in a nearly half acre, predominantly to lawns and mature trees, plus double garage and ample parking, Number 1 Red Barn Lane is indeed something special.  For nearly two decades the Goods and their now grown up family have enjoyed the lifestyle and convenience proffered.

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