2016-11-04   facebooktwitterrss

NSA Calls for Urgent Action on BPS Delays

The problem of late delivery of the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and farmer statements has still not been resolved, with the National Sheep Association (NSA) hearing of many cases relating to sheep farmers in upland and common grazing situations.

While the unacceptable situation in Scotland has been well documented, sheep farmers in England and Wales are also still waiting for settlement almost nine months after the deadline. Some have not even had their statement outlining the total amount they can expect. NSA believes urgent action is needed from the rural payments agencies in all three nations to remedy the problems caused to farm businesses.

Ewe & Lambs

Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, says:
“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.”

NSA is hearing from an increasing number of our members on this issue, and the situations individuals are finding themselves in are growing in severity.

Greg Dalton, NSA Northern Region Chairman and sheep farmer from County Durham, echoes the comments about the increasing severity of the situation. He says:
“I know Brexit has become the main topic on people’s minds recently, but I really feel this is something that needs dealing with. I’ve heard of some farmers who’ve had bailiffs at their door demanding payments, and I know several people who’ve had to seek assistance from farming charities. There are people in this area of the country who are struggling to keep their heads above water, solely down to the fact they are yet to receive a payment which was due months ago.”

George Milne, NSA Scottish Region Development Officer, provides an update on the situation north of the border. He says:
“Figures produced in mid-October show progress has been made, with 18,268 businesses out of 18,327 eligible to claim a BPS payment last year having now received it. Obviously, there are still a proportion of businesses yet to receive their money and the whole process has been extremely difficult for farmers to say the least. In terms of this year’s payment, Scottish Government has recently announced a new loan scheme due to start this month. Farmers who sign up will receive 80% of their BPS due during November, although a start date for payments is yet to be announced. My understanding is that there are still a significant number of farmers eligible for this scheme who are yet to sign up, I’d urge those individuals to do so immediately to avoid missing out.”

In stark contrast to those farmers in England, Wales and Scotland still waiting for last year's payment, Northern Ireland delivered the 2015 scheme on time and NSA understands that 90% of eligible claimants for this year's scheme have already received 70% of their money.


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