Policy Round-up: October 2018
October has been a whirlwind of a month, with the party conferences, the Agriculture Bill progressing through Parliament and the Autumn Budget all taking place in the last few weeks. We’ve also been in and out of Parliament as usual this month, meeting with individual MPs and presenting our new Heritage Maintenance Funds research to the All Party Parliamentary Group for Arts & Heritage.
Yesterday’s Budget Red Book did not contain any surprise announcements around capital taxes and nationally important heritage, but two important consultations were flagged on the horizon: on the taxation of trusts, and on the criteria under which self-catering and holiday lets become chargeable to business rates rather than council tax. We will be keeping an eye out for both, and responding on behalf of our house members. A proposed cut in business rates for retail properties with a rateable value below £51,000, a planned review of wedding venues and new funding for digital infrastructure could also impact many of the historic houses we represent. House members can read our detailed analysis and round-up of all Budget announcements on the house members’ section of our website.
The Agriculture Bill received its second reading on 10 October. While the main part of the Bill is concerned with replacing the Basic Payments Scheme, it will also pave the way for the replacement for LEADER funding currently available through Pillar 2 of the Common Agricultural Policy. Historic Houses has joined with others in the heritage sector to make it clear that new environmental and landscape funding structures need to ensure the historic environment is recognised and considered on a par with the natural environment. Historic Houses will keep track as the Bill progresses, and we’ll continue to lobby for heritage and historic environment interests.
Aside from our policy work, October has also been a busy one for our education projects. We are delighted that our joint PhD student, Elena Porter, has officially started and is getting stuck into her research; look out for blog posts from Elena early next year. We are also excited to announce that applications for the 2019 Historic Houses Attingham Scholarship have now opened! Applicants to the Scholarship must be working or living at an Historic Houses member property, and must already have a grounding in some aspect of country house scholarship. If you would like more information, or if you are interested in applying, please contact Emma Robinson.
Emma and Polly, the policy team