More than one-third of farmers in England will receive their basic payment on the first day of the payment window, which opens next week, the government has announced.
Some 30,000 farmers – equivalent to about 35% of all eligible claimants in England – will receive their full 2015 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payment in their bank account on Tuesday (1 December), said the Rural Payments Agency (RPA).
RPA chief executive Mark Grimshaw said: “We have been working seven days a week, to ensure we deliver in an accurate and timely manner, drawing on resources from across government to process claims, so full BPS payments to farmers start to be paid on the first day.”
Mr Grimshaw said the agency was on course to meet its promise of paying more than half of all farmers by the end of the year – and the vast majority of claimants by the end of January.
But farm leaders warned that “difficult” claims must not be overlooked in the race to get cash out the door.
Even so, many English farmers will receive full payment quicker than claimants in Scotland and Wales.
They will have to wait until next spring to receive all their money (see “When will your payment arrive?”, below).
Most Northern Irish farmers are due to receive full payments during December.
Mr Grimshaw said the agency was writing to farmers unlikely to be paid by the end of January to help them manage their cashflow.
Claims expected to take longer include those involving common land, cross-border claims, probate cases and complex larger claims.
As the processing of BPS claims progressed, there may be other cases that require more checks, resulting in payments later than the end of January, said Mr Grimshaw.
The agency was committed to letting these claimants know as soon as it could.
NFU vice-president Guy Smith said it was important that complex cases weren’t “shoved to the back of the queue”.
“The NFU hasn’t forgotten those cases and will be pressing the RPA to ensure they are paid as soon as possible.”
Defra secretary Liz Truss said the government’s focus had always been on providing farmers with these payments as early as possible. The priority now was to ensure remaining payments were made as quickly as possible.
When will your payment arrive?
Rural Payments Agency chief executive Mark Grimshaw says 30,000 basic payments will be made on 1 December.
He says he is on track to meet a self-imposed target of paying more than half the 88,000 or so claimants in England before the end of that month.
Mr Grimshaw says the “vast majority” of payments will have been made by the end of January.
Scottish rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead says part-payments will be made by the end of December – but only to one in four claimants.
The first instalment will be at least 70% of the total, with the balance due in April. Most farmers should receive their initial payment by the end of January, with all first instalments expected by the end of March.
Welsh deputy farm minister Rebecca Evans says part-payments will be made to the majority of farmers during December month, with the vast majority of remaining part-payments made early in 2016.
Part-payments are anticipated to be in the region of 80% of the full value. The final balance of each basic payment is expected to be paid during April 2016.
Northern Ireland farm minister Michelle O’Neill says payments will be made to 95% of claimants in December. Payments will include the majority of cases selected for inspection, and will include all cases selected for inspection by remote sensing. All inspection cases are due to be paid by the end of March 2016.