About 19,000 farmers in England have still not received their basic payments, new figures show.
In a statement released on Friday (12 February), the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) said it had now paid BPS claims to 68,572 of the estimated 88,000 eligible farmers and landowners in England.
This is equivalent to 78.7% of all eligible customers. However, £400,000 of the total value of the BPS – £1.43bn – pot still needs to be paid.
It also means that since its last statement on 3 February, the RPA has only managed to pay an additional 1,772 farmers (1.7%) their BPS money.
Out of the 19,000 farmers still awaiting payments, many have been given no indication over when they will receive their cash, with the window open until June 2016.
The RPA said it would continue to process claims throughout February as they are checked and completed.
RPA chief executive Mark Grimshaw has pledged to pay almost all eligible farmers by the end of March with a few thousand of the most complex cases – such as commons, inspections and cross-border cases – taking slightly longer.
Mr Grimshaw said: “We understand the importance of these payments for farmers and every effort is being made to pay farmers as quickly as possible. We are listening to farmers and understand that they want more communication.
“We know that farmers need as much information as possible to manage their business. That’s why we have been making regular announcements on the progress with BPS 2015 payments and will continue to do so.”
The NFU said it was disappointed that 19,000 farmers were still waiting for their claims to be paid, in one of the toughest farming years in living memory.
It was also essential that the RPA paid the outstanding claims to avoid any knock-on effects before BPS 2016 rolls out, it added.
The RPA is working with voluntary organisations to support farmers experiencing hardship. Any farmers wanting help and advice should contact the Rural Payments helpline on 03000 200 301 in the first instance.