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The creation of new opportunities

Did you know that 81% of businesses in Sussex were started by individuals and employ fewer than ten people?  Its a miracle any businesses at all survive in the Wealden District!

The majority of these were started by individuals like you; already employed in the business community, or with a business idea they were convinced would be a success.  It's worth taking a look at the problems other business people faced when moving into the Wealden area.  They did not know of the high rates (taxes) and harsh enforcement actions against farmers and other skilled crafts persons, which in some case drove them to the wall.  One engineering firm at Mayfield scored when Wealden had made an error on rateable value and still insisted the firm should pay up.  The Court ordered Wealden to rethink its demand.

Learning about the planning pitfalls on this site can dramatically improve your chances of survival in the early stages.

Sussex Enterprise and other regional Enterprise Agencies may be able to help in a number of ways by, for example:

  • providing individual counselling

  • help with financing

  • management skills

  • workforce development

  • legal services

  • help with international trade

Spend a little time now doing research, planning and seeking advice. This can save a great deal of time, money and heartache.

Homeworking

Many people work from home nowadays and find it rewarding. If you are planning to work at home or even if you already do, here are some of the things that you should consider:

  • Being self-employed means you need to comply with the Inland Revenue definitions. For example, do you risk your own money in the business, do you provide the main items of equipment yourself, can you hire other people to deliver your service or do you have to do it personally?

  • If you are a contractor be aware of the IR35 provisions. These are Inland Revenue rules concerning services delivered through an intermediary company and apply to all contracts agreed from 6 April 2000 onwards. You may need to speak to an accountant.

  • Check your insurance or mortgage arrangements, because you are working from home.

  • There are  health and safety implications, for example, the correct equipment, sufficient space. Normally, you would require separate toilet washing and food preparation facilities.  We know of several cases where Wealden District Council's enforcement officer, David Phillips, has used ratepayers money to gain injunctions to remove toilets/washing facilities, contrary to the Health & Safety Regulations 1992.  In one case at Herstmonceux in Sussex the occupier was ordered to remove this equipment required by law.  On appeal to the High Court, they refused to allow a letter from the Health & Safety Executive to be adduced - which proved H&S Regs. take precedence.  However, Dame Butler Schloss made it clear that after removing the toilet, etc, to comply with the injunction, the owner should refit the equipment to comply with H&S Regulations. So much for justice! The situation was eventually restored but at a cost of 20,000 in costs, plus the inconvenience of a two year wait and the worry.  That's Wealden for you!

Inland Revenue  For help with the tax implications of working from home

Health & Safety Executive To assess the safety of your new working environment

Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development Personnel advice and discussion.

Sussex Enterprise, the 'voice of business for Sussex', welcomes you to our website. For all your business needs - we are here to help you!  We are a membership organisation, but also deliver business link and learn direct services available to all businesses. Contact them on 0845 036 0144.

Creating new income streams for Farmers

Many rural businesses, especially farmers, are having to widen their sphere of activity to make even a modest profit. Traditionally, they have been producers of raw material but increasingly have to diversify to survive.

As a result of competitive pressures, farm incomes have become very volatile and the average net profit of a British farm in 2001 was only 3,500. This has forced the farmers to investigate alternative sources of income, to look upon the farm as a business with assets to be exploited.

Some of the main types of diversification encountered are:-

Conversion of redundant buildings for non-farming uses:-

  • The conversion of barns for residential or light industrial use.  What are the chances of a fair determination?

  • The conversion of redundant outbuildings into holiday lettings.  What has been approved in your area?

  • The conversion of redundant buildings for light industrial use - such as storage, craft-type industries, workshops and offices - is now a major activity. Attractions include the rural setting, reasonable rents, easy parking and the availability of local employees.  Wealden are particularly anti rural industrial developments - unless of course you are in the club.  A backhander might assist - but why should you pay?

  • Within Sussex there has been a rapid growth in equestrian activities and many farmers are converting outbuildings to provide stabling on full livery on a DIY basis.  Don't believe it.  See the demolition of the Bushy Wood stables - apparently Wealden hate horses, either that or they discriminate between operators!  It cost Mr & Mrs Punter almost everything they had and ruined their lives.  Either way can you afford to take the risk.

Use of land for leisure activities:-

  • There are more than 150 farms in the county which offer a limited caravanning capability with up to 5 vans per site.

  • Other farms have much larger caravan sites with full facilities. These sites are registered with the Caravan Club of Great Britain and can produce substantial extra revenues.

  • Another 'nice little earner' is the over-wintering of caravans and display trailers to get them off the streets. This type of storage requires little investment and can produce incomes of 150 to 200 per annum per van.

  • A number of farmers have set up leisure activities on their land including clay pigeon-shooting, quad bike racing, assault courses for corporate use.  Such activities may be planning control exempt if only held for 28 days in the year, such as most boot fairs.

Creating added value to raw products:-

  • Many farmers have diversified into the processing of their own products such as cheese making, yoghurt manufacture.  Others suffer discrimination and repeated harassment from Wealden's chief enforcement officers, such as Hammer Lane Farm, Horam and Hackhurst Lane Farm.

  • The smaller meat producers are collaborating to set up a meat marketing co-operative to sell their products through local outlets including restaurants, pubs, butchers, pie makers etc. Farmers Markets also form an important direct outlet for producers.

Finding Property in Sussex.

Moving into new offices - or starting to work from home - should be a motivating experience. Whether you're looking for commercial property for the first time or seeking a change, consider the main factors in advance, to reduce the headaches later.

  • Thinking of Moving alerts you to the implications of disruption, cost, location and property size.

  • Finding Premises helps you to distinguish between buying, leasing, licensing; it provides sources and examples of business accommodation in Sussex and beyond.

  • Equipping and Furnishing covers the considerations of fixtures and fittings (including IT and planning matters), information on health and safety plus ways of reducing your utility bills.

  • Working from Home looks at the legal, tax and other implications of this popular alternative to going to the office

  • Rural Diversification helps you find property in converted farm properties (outside the Wealden area).

  • Finance indicates various ways of meeting the costs and possible funding sources.

Finding the right sort of office space for your business can be a challenge - more so in some areas because of rogue planners.  Wealden is widely held to be one such affected area.  In addition to the other farming cases featured on this site, we know of several cases in the Wealden District where fruit, fish and ostrich business/farm investments went pear shaped because of Wealden's chief enforcement officer led harrassment!  You may want to think again about moving to Wealden.  David Phillips is reputed to have a "kills" collection - a personal library of mobile home demolitions, on which evidence this council have apparently promoted the gentleman.  The message is clear!  By comparison, Eastbourne, Seaford, Bexhill, Worthing and other locations in Sussex offer helpful advice and a friendly service.  If these councils make a mistake, you are more likely to see it resolved fairly and speedily - thus reducing the damage to your enterprise.

 

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs  For examples of best practice and numerous sources of financial assistance.

Contact Sussex Enterprise's farming advisors

 

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