Newly released data from the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has shown 66,800 farmers in England (77 per cent) had been paid their 2015 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payment by the end of January.
The RPA’s announcement means that of the £1.43 billion set aside for the BPS in 2015 more than £1 billion is now in the hands of England’s farmers.
RPA Chief Executive Mark Grimshaw said: “I understand how important it is to know more about the timings of payments for farmers who are running a business.
“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.”
Last year the RPA pledged to pay the majority of payments in December 2015, adding that the rest would be completed in January this year; a target which the Agency has failed to meet.
The RPA is now working with a range of voluntary organisations to support farmers experiencing hardship as a result of late payments.
Ross Murray, President of the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), said: “This is a very difficult time for those still waiting for their payment, and it is crucial that the RPA’s focus remains on ensuring that all outstanding payments are made as soon as possible.
“Farms can’t plan without clear and reliable information about the timeframe in which they will be paid, and it was disappointing that a number of ‘inspection’ emails were sent in error causing unnecessary confusion in the last week. We are reassured that the RPA is addressing this confusion as a matter of urgency.
“We know that payments are continuing to arrive with our members on a daily basis, and we will continue to do all we can to help ensure that all remaining applications are processed and payments are made as swiftly as possible.”
Additional data from the Forestry Commission (FC) shows that it has paid out over two thirds (70 per cent) of capital payments, totalling £13 million to woodland owners to protect, improve and expand woodlands in England.
FC has also paid out over 50 per cent of valid annual claims worth just under £6 million and has said its work to pay outstanding claims is ongoing.