Charity sees rise in farmers needing help to claim benefits

More farming people are asking for help to claim welfare benefits, according to a leading rural charity.

The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) said it was concerned about the length of time it is taking for those in need to receive state benefits.

See also: Pray for struggling dairy farmers, says charity

The charity said it was seeing a rise in the number of farming people requiring help because they were waiting for assessments for Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

RABI head of welfare, Trish Pickford, said: “We have been kept busy by the effects of the changing welfare benefits system.”

Much time and effort was being spent helping people with Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claims and PIP in particular, she added.

“We have seen people in need waiting more than six months for claims for PIP to be dealt with and the situation does not seem to be improving.”

PIP provides financial support for disabled people to help them remain as independent as possible. It replaced Disability Living Allowance and is paid to people in and out of work, aged 16-64.

RABI regional welfare officer Suzie Paton said: “People are being left without any money. PIP, in particular, is a new benefit still trying to find its feet.

“Seventeen months ago I helped with an application for a farmworker with a respiratory illness, anxiety and depression. Life is very difficult for this person and they cannot work.

“We made the application in the usual way – I was there when they rang up and I helped complete and send the paperwork. A year later, nothing has happened.”

The local MP was now involved in this case, said Ms Paton.

“This person already thinks no one cares about them and the emotional stress being added is enormous. The case is still not resolved.

“They are managing financially thanks to ESA and the support of the RABI.

“This case is just one of many we are seeing – a lot of applications are taking eight or nine months.”

RABI is a grant-making charity which helps farming people of all ages in financial difficulty.

In 2014, the RABI helped people in the farming community claim about £379k in tax credits and state benefits and gave out about £2m in charitable grants.

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