Mark Grimshaw© Tim Scrivener

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has rejected calls to make interim payments to English farmers who end up waiting longer than usual for their CAP money this year.

Speaking at an NFU council meeting this week, RPA chief executive Mark Grimshaw rejected repeated calls for the agency to consider making part payments to farmers when the window for the new Basic Payment Scheme opens this December.

In recent years, most farmers have received their money soon after the payment window opens.

But the agency has refused to say that this will be the case in 2015 – and EU rules allow payments to made to farmers at any time until the window closes in June 2016.

See also: Deadline for stewardship payment claims moved to 15 June

Problems with the online system mean it is likely farmers will have to wait longer for their money this year. Rather than processing applications online, agency staff face the prospect of processing thousands of claims on paper.

“The reason I believe we don’t have to look at part payments is that I fully expect us to have paid all the applications that we have received during the payment window.”
Mark Grimshaw, NFU

Initially, Mr Grimshaw would say only that the agency would start making payments “from December 2015”.

He then said he would be “very disappointed” if most claims had not been settled by the end of January 2016.

“The reason I believe we don’t have to look at part payments is that I fully expect us to have paid all the applications that we have received during the payment window,” Mr Grimshaw told NFU council members at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, on Tuesday (21 April).

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) said farmers were “rightly concerned” that payments could be delayed.

This week, CLA president Henry Robinson wrote to the major banks and to HMRC seeking reassurances that plans were in place if payments were late.

Mr Robinson said: “We remain focused on helping members to get their basic payment applications in on time.

“We are working closely with the Rural Payments Agency and we are reassured they are focused on resolving the problems they have encountered in delivering this system.

He added: “We will continue to do what we can to make sure delays do not happen. Nonetheless we think it is wise to start talking to the banks and HMRC now about how they will help businesses if delays do happen.”