Bridging payments will be made to the 10% of farmers yet to receive their 2015 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) money in recognition of the cash flow pressures they are facing, the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) announced on Tuesday, 19 April.
Speaking at the NFU Council in Kenilworth, RPA chief executive Mark Grimshaw said these final cases were proving more difficult to process than had been anticipated – because of the complications caused by a new inspection regime and changes to how commons applications are processed.
He confirmed that with around 10% of farmers left to pay it was now possible to administer bridging payments in a rigorous and swift fashion.
Thanks to a focus on prioritising full payments, around 90% of applicants have been paid – ensuring most farmers received their entitlement as quickly as possible and minimising the risk of disallowance.
The bridging payments will be made by the end of April. As with RPA’s established process for making hardship payments, which has helped 505 farmers with £8m of support, the bridging payments will be based on around half of their claim value.
The 2015 BPS scheme required RPA to carry out more, and different, inspections because of the new greening requirements. This included new items for inspection such as Ecological Focus Areas.
Meanwhile, common land claims have taken longer due to the new approach this year which distributes money only between those who use the common, rather than allocating a proportion based on everyone who has a registered right.
Exchequer funded, bridging payments ‘bridge’ the gap until claims are validated and funds can be reclaimed from Europe.
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Chief executive of the RPA Mark Grimshaw said:
“We know how important these payments are for farmers and our priority has always been to get the majority of farmers payments as quickly as possible.
“We are now processing the last 10% of complex claims and recognise this is taking longer than we anticipated. With the bulk of farmers paid, we are now introducing bridging payments to ease financial cash flow for those farmers still awaiting full payment.
“We hope this step offers some help while we continue working seven days a week to complete our processing of remaining 2015 claims.”