THE NFU has called for immediate bridging payments to be provided to the 5,000+ farmers who have yet to receive their Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments for 2018.

The call follows the Rural Payment Agency’s release of BPS 2018 payment figures which show that 93% of eligible claims were paid in December.

This compares to 91% in December 2017.

NFU Vice President Stuart Roberts said that while this was a welcome improvement from 2017 figures, and it is encouraging to hear the RPA is on track for completing payments ahead of the June deadline, the government must do more to make bridging payments available to those who do not receive their payments in December.

He said: “The delivery of BPS is clearly improving, especially considering the challenges in 2018 of updated mapping and greening rule changes, but it is by no means in perfect working order. Over 5,000 farmers and growers are still waiting for payments through no fault of their own and may not receive a penny for months.

“Timely payments are crucial for farm businesses to be able to manage their cash flow, especially after last year’s extreme weather which put extra pressure on businesses. For those who have yet to be paid, the government must provide immediate bridging payments to ease this pressure and we are disappointed that such financial assistance may not be provided until April.

“With regards to other BPS payment activity, we are pleased to see eligible commoners finally receiving their retrospective adjustment payments for the BPS years 2015-2017, but are still hearing reports of farmers waiting for other claim issues to be resolved that date back as far as 2015. We must see these fully resolved before the 2019 application window opens in March.”

The Rural Payments Agency said the 93.4% figure was the best performance in the first month of the payment window since the scheme started in 2015.

Payments during December were made to 78,787 of eligible claimants and were worth more than £1.57bn in total, it said.

They included a range of 2018 BPS claim types and sizes.

RPA chief executive Paul Caldwell said: “We fully appreciate how critical BPS payments are to farmers and their businesses. We have increased efforts to pay more people as early as possible and RPA teams have now landed more than £1.5 billion into farmers’ bank accounts. I’m very grateful to them for all their work so far.

“We know there is more to do and that some farmers are still waiting for payments. We have written to everyone we were not able to pay in December and will continue to keep people up-to-date.”

All farmers should make sure the RPA has their up-to-date bank account details. Once a payment has been made a remittance advice is sent in the post, confirming the amount paid.

A claim statement will also be sent to explain how payments have been worked out.

The RPA said it was on track to complete payments significantly ahead of the June 2019 deadline. Those claimants who have not been paid by the end of March will receive a bridging payment worth 75% of the value of their claim.

More information on BPS 2018, including scheme rules and details of how payments are calculated, is available at