AFTER months of delayed payments, the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has confirmed that at the end of December it paid 93.4 per cent of claims of the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) 2018, representing a total of £1.57bn paid to farmers.

More than 78,000 claimants are reported by the Government to have received their payments, which included a range of 2018 BPS claim types and sizes, but the RPA acknowledged that multiple farmers continue to be left in the lurch without being paid.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has assured that those claimants who had not been paid by the end of March will receive a bridging payment worth 75 per cent of the value of their claim by June 2019.

RPA chief executive Paul Caldwell said: “We fully appreciate how critical BPS payments are to farmers and their businesses.

“We have increased efforts to pay more people as early as possible and RPA teams have now landed more than £1.5bn into farmers’ bank accounts. I’m very grateful to them for all their work so far.

“We know there is more to do and that some farmers are still waiting for payments. We have written to everyone we were not able to pay in December and will continue to keep people up-to-date.

“All farmers should make sure the RPA has their up-to-date bank account details. Once a payment has been made a remittance advice is sent in the post, confirming the amount paid.”

CLA president Tim Breitmeyer welcomed RPA’s announcement, but warned that delayed BPS payments and continued delay on stewardship payments were causing great concern to many farmers.

He said: “This is welcome progress, but those still awaiting payment are experiencing pressure on the business, and in many cases significant stress and worry.

“The rural economy is already facing an uncertain future in the lead up to Brexit and beyond so delayed BPS payments, alongside these other delays to agri-environment scheme payments are compounding and causing a real dent.

“We have previously called on the Treasury to make early and timely bridging payments and are disappointed these are not forthcoming. They should be made a planned feature of the administrative process for the remainder of BPS, and we will continue to press for them in order to put an end to the annual cycle of uncertainty on this issue.”