Improvements in farm subsidy payments regime, but 10% still unpaid, NFU survey suggests

Guy Smith, vice president of the National Farmers' Union

Guy Smith, vice president of the National Farmers' Union - Credit: NFU

Ten per cent of farmers have still not been paid their subsidies for 2016, a survey suggests.

A survey of 300 National Farmers’ Union (NFU) members from across the country is revealing a mixed picture on the performance of the Rural Payments Agency (RPA), which delivers more than £2bn worth of payments to farmers each year as part of the European Union Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

The sample of farmers, representing all sectors of the industry, were asked when their payments were received and what impact any delays had on them and their business.

So far, the results show that 90% of respondents have been paid indicating a much improved performance by the RPA compared to the previous year.

Of the 2016 claimants, 10% have still not been paid, which has hit cash flows, leading to the need to borrow more money, having problems paying bills, or selling stock or crops earlier than planned.

Five per cent of those paid their 2016 claim noted a shortfall in what they expected to be paid, and 11% still had outstanding payment or claims issues from the 2015 application year.

NFU vice president and Guy Smith, who farms at St Osyth, near Clacton, said: “These early stage results show that despite a commendable effort by the RPA to get BPS money out to cash-strapped farmers, there is clear evidence that the RPA is still stretched. As we move into 2017 it seems the pace of payment has significantly dropped away to a dribble leaving those in the unpaid 10% worried about cash flow and feeling clueless about when they will see their BPS. We have been calling for some time now for bridging payments for those not paid by the end of January.

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“In light of these survey results we repeat these calls. Furthermore, the level of clear up work left over from 2015 is unacceptably large – in effect the RPA have more than 8000 customers who for some reason still haven’t concluded their 2015 application 18 months after submission. That is far too many for comfort.”