51,000 farmers in England receive RPA payments

More than 51,000 farmers in England have received their 2016 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) money during the initial payment window, according to the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) – with many more to benefit by the end of the December.

This figure for payments made between 1-2 December represents 59 per cent of eligible claimants and has seen more than £660 million handed to farmers and rural business owners.

In order to reassure farmers the RPA has said it will remain “focused’ on paying 90% of eligible claims by the end of December”. However, it chief executive Mark Grimshaw has already faced criticism over late payments in previous years, including during 2015 when farmers experienced a year of missed payments targets and inaccurate settlements.

Mark Grimshaw answered questions about his agency’s performance at an Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee hearing earlier this year, and promise that the last 1,000 or so of unsettled 2015 Basic Payment Scheme claims would be “closed” by early January at the latest.

However, according to the NFU the 1,000 or more hill farmers who are yet to receive their BPS payments for 2015 could be facing a very difficult winter without additional support.

The Union believes that some of the most vulnerable farm businesses in the country are at future risk due to the failure of the RPA to make payments owed to them.