Bigger farmers have been kept waiting longer for their Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) cash than in previous years, according to a Wiltshire land agent.
George Paton, co-founder of WebbPaton land development consultancy, has worked on getting farm payments to clients for 25 years and told Farmers Guardian he had seen a shift to paying smaller claims first this year.
“Later payments have been very noticeable this time and it is the ones with the biggest acreages,” he said.
“This time last year we had 10 out of 250 unpaid claims, now it is 40 and they are all over 500 acres.
“Nearly all the bigger acreages had their money by the end of January last year. The bigger the farmer, the more cashflow is actually needed.
“I do not know whether the change of attitude is being driven by [Defra Secretary Michael] Gove, the Chancellor or the new chief executive [of the RPA].”
Mr Gove has made clear his intention to limit larger farm payments as the UK moves to a different policy, with Defra’s farming consultation paper suggesting a possible cap of £100,000 alongside two other capping options.
Mr Paton’s claims were backed up by Hampshire farmer Richard Porter.
“The RPA may have paid 95 per cent of claims, but most of them will be small,” Mr Porter said.
“They have held back on the bigger payments – I know that from speaking to agents. It appears to me the line has been drawn at £100,000, anybody over that is still waiting.”
Mr Porter, who sent in his claim last May, said there were no problems with his application.
“I have rung three or four times and they have told me they are still processing it – they do not say any more," he added.
“I have lots of rents due at the end of March, and the landlord is not going to care about my BPS payment. The bank probably will not lend any more either.
“I was two days late paying my tax and I was sent a bill for £88 interest. It is one rule for them and another for us.”