The 2012/13 CIPFA survey of farms, held by local authorities, has shown a continued decrease in the number of farms owned and hectares held by councils; while also showing a sharp increase in the level of rent received by authorities.
Commenting on the figures CIPFA Director Drew Cullen said:
“This data from local authorities shows clear continuing trends in council owned farms. While the number of farms owned continues to drop significantly, the total area of farm land held isn’t decreasing at the same rate.
“At the same time the amount of income authorities are receiving from their farm holdings in rent has increased significantly and as a whole their farm holdings have, for the past few years, been returning money to local taxpayers in increased revenues.”
The statistics show that in the last year the total number of farms owned by local authorities fell by 164 or 4.9%, while over the past five years, the total number decreased by 469 or 12.9% of the total stock. This figure includes both Equipped Farms and Bare Land Farms.
However, over the same five year period the total size of farms held only dropped by 2.6% or a decrease of 2,977 hectares. In the last year there was a drop of over 1,104 hectares, accounting for a 0.99% decrease in the area of farmland held.
Meanwhile rent per hectare paid to local authorities, for the use of their farms, increased sharply, both over the five year period and in the previous year.
Rent on Equipped Farms increased on average from around £221 per hectare to almost £242 between 2011/12 and 2012/13, an increase of 9.5%. While rent for Bare Land Farms increased from nearly £179 per hectare to just over £204 over the same period, an increase of 14.2%.
This is a continuation of a trend of similar sharp increases over the past five years with rent per hectare on Equipped Farms increasing from just over £203 per hectare to just under £242 between 2008/09 and 2012/13, a percentage increase of 18.9%. While rent for Bare Land Farms increased from just over £153 per hectare to over £204 in the same period, an increase of 33.2%.
Data on the income and expenditure by local authorities on their farms showed that across the whole of England and Wales, and after including capital charges, local authorities are making a surplus from their farm holdings, with a net surplus in 2012/13 of £2.6m.
CIPFA Press Office
T: 020 7543 5600
Notes to editors:
1) Response rate to the CIPFA survey this year was high across England but noticeably low within Wales. This means that though the data here is presented as for whole of England and Wales the application of trends and data to Welsh Authorities should be treated with caution.
2) Attached to this press notice is an abridged version of the CIPFA council farms statistics.
3) Tables 1, 2 and 3 below include data on farm size, rents and accounts. (Note: The figures in these tables may not add up to the totals due to rounding.)