The Rural Payments Agency only managed to deliver just under 2,000 Basic Payment Scheme payments to farmers over the past week, raising more questions about the timescale for the outstanding payments.
The latest payment run of 1,972 claims took the total number of claims paid in England to 68,572 representing 78.7 per cent of the 87,000 eligible farmers in England.
A total of £1.043 billion has been distributed out of a fund of £1.43 billion.
While welcome for those farmers who have been paid over the past week the figures will come as a disappointment within the bigger picture.
The RPA informed 13,000 farmers in January they would not be paid by the end of that month, creating the impression all other farmers who had neither been paid nor received a letter were on track to be paid very soon.
With about, 18,500 farmers still waiting to be paid in mid-February that has proved to be far from the mark.
Last week, RPA chief executive Mark Grimshaw said the intention was to have paid ’almost all eligible farmers by the end of March’, with ’few thousand’ of the more complex cases taking slightly longer’.
On current performance that would appear to be a big ask.
In an update on Friday, Mr Grimshaw addressed criticism of RPA’s communications on BPS as farmers have complained they have been left in the dark about when outstanding payments were likely to arrive.
He said: "We understand the importance of these payments for farmers and every effort is being made to pay farmers as quickly as possible.
"We are listening to farmers and understand that they want more communication.
“We know that farmers need as much information as possible to manage their business.
"That’s why we have been making regular announcements on the progress with BPS 2015 payments and will continue to do so.”
The agency said claims would continue to be paid throughout February as they are checked and completed.
Remaining claims such as commons, inspections and cross-border cases ’are being progressed as quickly as possible’, it said, adding farmers in these groups have been contacted to let them know ’when they can expect to be paid from’.
The agency said it would continue to provide regular updates for farmers on the status of their BPS 2015 payments, including through farming networks and by contacting individual farmers.
The RPA is working with a range of voluntary organisations to support farmers experiencing hardship.
Any farmers wanting help and advice should contact the Rural Payments helpline on 03000 200 301 in the first instance.