Farmers still owed millions of pounds from Basic Payment Scheme, says NFA

The National Farmers Union (NFU) has said that according to its calculations farmers in England may be still waiting for around £120 million in 2015 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) support – months after the government said the money would be paid.

On 1 May the Rural Payments Agency announced that all farmers in England had now received either their full BPS payment or at least a ‘bridging loan’, worth approximately 50 per cent of their claim.

Despite this claim around 7,000 farmers are understood to still be waiting for the final top-up funding to their bridging loan, whilst hundreds more farmers are understood to have been underpaid due to an RPA error.

The NFU has said that it is “ridiculous” that thousands of farmers are still waiting for cash more than half a year after the payment window opened.

The total BPS fund was about £1.43 billion, but the union has estimated that the RPA had paid out in the region of £1.31 billion.

Guy Smith, NFU vice-president, said: “So there is a £120 million deficit there and of that we think £60 million is the second tranche of bridging payments and that leaves £60 million, which we assume is underpayments.”

Under current EU regulations, the payment window for BPS runs from 1 December to 30 June. Any amount paid after this is subject to interest paid on any money received by farmers.

Guy Smith has said that the NFU was adamant that farmers should be paid interest on any money paid after the end of June.

In response to the claims an RPA spokesman said that over 81,800 (94 per cent) of 2015 BPS claims had now been completed, but was unable to provide figures on the value of payments.

“We will investigate all claim queries through a planned payment reconciliation process that will take place from June, when the BPS 2015 payment window closes,” they added.

“Farmers, who believe their payments are incorrect, should write to the agency so it can investigate, make any necessary adjustments and top up payments.”