Farming News - Delayed payments see sheep farmers turning to charity

Delayed payments see sheep farmers turning to charity

07 Nov 2016
Frontdesk / Livestock

The National Sheep Association has warned that continued delays in Basic Payments have led sheep farmers to turn to charity.

Almost nine months after the deadline for the first payments under the new Basic Payment Scheme, farmers in Scotland, England and Wales are all still waiting for money. The Association said it is being contacted by an increasing number of farmers, whose situations are becoming increasingly severe. NSA’s Northern Regional Chair Greg Dalton said farmers have been forced to seek assistance from farming charities to cope with the delayed payments.

On Friday, NSA Chief Executive Phil Stocker commented, “The types of farms affected are those often living hand to mouth, with struggles enough already without the issue of settlement payments still not being made. This is creating real hardship amongst farming families, some of whom we have heard are turning to charities to put food on the table.

“To make matters worse we are hearing of cases where statements have not been received indicating the monies due, which means getting support from banks or credit from suppliers is  difficult. As the year end approaches, so too does the time of year many businesses will be looking at end of year accounts and budgeting. It is simply unacceptable for the Government to expect them to be able to do this without the financial information provided by the statements.

“The situation as it stands simply cannot be allowed to replicate itself next year. It is vital the RPA steps up its game and puts procedures and measures in place now to ensure payments and statements go out in timely fashion next year.”

Although farmers throughout mainland Britain are still waiting on payments, authorities in Northern Ireland delivered 2015 payments on time, and 90% of claimants have reportedly received 70% or more of their total payments.

Responding to the Association's claims on Monday, an RPA spokesperson said, "We understand the importance of BPS payments for farmers and our priority has been to pay as many farmers as possible as quickly as possible. All eligible farmers have received a payment on their 2015 BPS claim apart from exceptional cases, such as those that cannot be paid for legal reasons like probate.

"Making payments on large commons has proved challenging in the first year of BPS. This was down to multiple and often very large land parcels, many commoners claiming BPS and a complicated historical allocation of grazing rights. The RPA will make any remaining payments as swiftly as possible. A remittance advice and claim statement will be issued once the claims are paid."