The remainder will ‘follow shortly’, an RPA spokesperson said. Just 6,000 claim statements had been sent in England by the start of this week, fuelling concerns even farmers who had been paid so far would face serious time pressure in making 2016 claims with the May 16, deadline looming.
However, of greater concern was the continuing wait for payment for an estimated 11,000 to 12,000 claimants, with RPA chief executive Mark Grimshaw’s pledge to have paid ‘almost all’ – or 92-95 per cent – by the end of March coming under increasing scrutiny.
The delivery of BPS payments to commons and inspection claimants looked set to continue throughout April, despite Mr Grimshaw’s prediction all commons payments should be issued in March.
NFU vice-president Guy Smith said: “For the 11-12,000 of us still waiting it seems hopeful we will be paid before the closing of the May 16 application window but it is getting uncomfortably tight.
“We are assured most the commoners will get paid by the first week of April and inspected before the last week of April.”
Julia Aglionby, executive director of the Foundation for Common Land, said Mr Grimshaw’s assurances for commons payments appeared ‘optimistic’ given commoners had until about March 23 to respond to RPA requests last month for further information about their claims.
Only once this information has been processed for every claimant on a common, can any commoners on that common be paid.
“The consequence is most commoners can expect payments arriving from mid-April onwards; not March as Mark Grimshaw told Parliament,” Ms Aglionby said.
An RPA spokesman said: “We are working to pay all remaining claims, including those with commons, as promptly as possible.”
“Farmers with any concerns or queries should contact RPA. Payments could be less than last year because of factors, such as the exchange rate, a new calculation method and the optional greening element.”