The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has confirmed that almost a third of 2015 Basic Payment Scheme funds have still to be paid to claimants. The NFU has criticised the agency for disrupting farm and rural business cash flows, while raising concerns over the 2016 payment schedule.
The RPA says that 66,800 of farmers in England (77% of claimants) had been paid their 2015 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payment by the end of January, with over £1 billion of the estimated total fund of £1.43bn paid out.
“Our aim is to have paid almost all eligible farmers by the end of March, with a few thousand of the more complex cases taking slightly longer, as they did under the Single Payment Scheme, “ states RPA chief executive Mark Grimshaw. “I understand how important it is to know more about the timings of payments for farmers who are running a business.”
For the NFU, vice president Guy Smith notes: “The RPA committed to paying the ‘vast majority’ of claims by the end of January, but there has never been a definitive figure attached to this commitment. The ambiguity is hindering the financial situation of farmers and their management of cash flow at this time.
“It’s totally unacceptable that thousands of cash-strapped farmers are left waiting for millions of pounds in BPS claims. Farmers must be paid as soon as possible. The danger is now that delays may compromise the ability to smoothly implement the application window for 2016.
“It’s especially alarming when many farmers only received notice that they were ‘unlikely to be paid by the end of January’ in the last few days, assuming quite rightly they were going to be paid but haven’t been. Farmers must know specifically when they are going to be paid so they know whether to call the bank manager or further extend bridging loans.
“I can’t believe that farmers are still in the dark on this – some point between now and the end of the payment window is nowhere near good enough. We have been inundated with calls from farmers over the shambolic communications coming out of the RPA - they have every right to feel deceived and angry.