As I type this email, the UK is beginning its third week of lockdown, due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Schools are closed; we’re confined indoors for all but essential journeys; plus, no one knows when this will all be over. As someone who works in Rural Property, you’ll be dealing with your own unique issues on top of all of this.
Here are three issues that the people we speak to have on their minds.
1 – Can I get help from the Government?
If you’re in Rural Property, you may be wondering when it’s going to get better. After all, you’ve just got through some of the worst floods in living memory; now, you’re dealing with Coronavirus. The Government has already taken steps to help farmers after the floods:
· Crop diversification ‘greening’ rules will not apply for the 2020 applications for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS). This is to help English farmers who have not been able to grow crops because of the extended wet weather and flooding.
· The Farming Recovery Fund has been extended further – including an extra £1 million in funding to assist flood-affected farms. Check to see if your area is included.
BPS and CS/ES applications must be submitted by May 15th. If you’re a Rural Surveyor, you’re bound to be busy with these applications, even during this uncertain period. You may also be looking to apply for financial help from the Government as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak.
2 – Will we recover?
There is no doubt that the Coronavirus will have wide-ranging effects on rural life. Farms that have already been knocked for six by the floods are now dealing with a pandemic. Also, there is still a lot of uncertainty around Brexit.
There are doubts about whether the help the Government is offering will be enough. Some rural businesses will be able to adapt to the new landscape, but others will see the busiest time of year approaching and be wondering how they are going to cope.
However, there may be light at the end of the tunnel. Some arable farmers can sow more spring crops due to the current warmer, dryer weather. Meat farmers will welcome the possibility of the US lifting its ban on British beef. We’ve also seen rural communities pulling together like never before in the face of this adversity.
We can do this.
3 – Are you looking after your staff?
If your business is still open, or if you’re running it with a skeleton staff, are you doing everything you can to protect your team?
Do they have all the equipment they need to perform their responsibilities without putting their health at risk? Are they happy within themselves to be coming into work? How is the Coronavirus crisis affecting their mental wellbeing?
For your team members that are now confined to their houses: are they working from home? If they are self-isolating due to sickness, are you checking in on them regularly? Are you paying them their full amount?
This is a challenging period for all of us, but it’s also an opportunity to do the right thing. If you look after your staff today, they’ll look after you tomorrow.
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This period of uncertainty will not last forever. Health-wise, we will get through it if we keep to the guidelines and don’t take risks. This is the most important thing.
In Rural Property there have always been ups and downs, but it never fails to amaze me how resilient the industry can be. There are uncertain weeks and months ahead, but I firmly believe that we can recover and come back stronger than ever.
In these uncertain times, it may be worth considering temporary or interim staffing support. Interim surveyors give you flexibility and expertise when it can be important.