BPS blog: How we're working to get the money moving


A healthy and manageable cash flow is the lifeblood of any farm business. The NFU's senior BPS adviser, Richard Wordsworth, reports on our lobbying efforts to get more money out to members, more quickly.

He writes:

The Rural Payment Agency continues to deliver payments, but not at the level the NFU would like to see. A major concern for me is that the most demanding and time-consuming are claims yet to be fully processed.

What needs to happen in January?

By 1 December around 33,000 payments were issued by the RPA and by the end of December around 44,400 claims had been paid.

This shows only 11,400 payments finalised and paid after December 1.  With 15,000 farmers receiving a letter saying they are unlikely to be paid before the end of January, that leaves  roughly 27,000 claims that could be paid this month.

But that is a tall order given the performance of the RPA in December. My biggest concern is for members that have not been told of any prolonged delay in payment beyond January. Looking at the stats, there has to be a significant shift in payment performance in January to minimise a group of farmers left high and dry at the end of the month.

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We have lobbied for extra resources to be deployed to achieve this, but only time will tell if RPA can deliver, making sure farmers receive communication detailing when they will get paid.

The NFU has pushed all the way through the BPS 2015 cycle for an open and transparent approach to communications from the RPA, Defra and ministers. While not as much information as anyone would have liked has been published to date, the RPA appreciates where the NFU is coming from and we have achieved more regular updates on BPS payment performance than I am sure would have originally been planned. It is absolutely vital that there are weekly updates made on payments issued. It goes without saying that we need payments to be made at least every week.

What we have done

We know how important your BPS payments are to your business. The NFU has been leading the way in working with RPA.  Over the Christmas period (while working of course), I reflected on what we had done on BPS for members:

  • The NFU has logged 116 hours of formal meetings with the RPA. On top of this my team has been in contact with them virtually every day via phone and email. And then we’ve relayed all this information to the most important people – our NFU members.
  • The NFU is the only organisation to have two full-time staff dedicated to BPS issues.
  • RPA Chief Executive Mark Grimshaw has attended all the NFU Council sessions in 2015, giving our Council representatives the opportunity to question him face to face.

This all takes time, but we do not stop at 5pm or on a Friday night.

What next?

The work does not stop until all payments are delivered. Only last week the NFU met HMRC to discuss that very real member frustration of one part of government asking for money when another part is not delivering money.  We have put a member briefing online and that can be found here.

Colleagues are in regular contact with MPs and this week we are visiting the RPA with members to raise concerns over BPS payment performance. We continue to push for the RPA to look at making part payments to claimants who are being told they are unlikely to be paid before February. For those not paid at the end of January, we are asking for the RPA to inform them when they will be paid. This will help with cash flow planning, which is so critical to the industry.

Keep up-to-date on BPS

For the latest on BPS payments refer to NFU Bulletin, go onto NFUOnline here or call NFU CallFirst on 0370 845 8458.

  • Posted by: Linda BowdenPosted on: 13/01/2016 07:42:48

    Comment: This is a shambles - it isn't just the farmers themselves who are affected, but all the suppliers who they deal with, this has a knock on effect right down the chain, many of the suppliers are self-employed people themselves who will also be wondering where the money to pay their tax at the end of the month is going to come from.

    I worked as a farm administrator for many years, am more than willing to be taken on by the RPA as one of the extra resources they require to help achieve speedy payments - my only concern would be whether I could work with the "civil service attitude"!.
  • Posted by: L Harrison Nfu Mumber Ar58zPosted on: 13/01/2016 17:11:35

    Comment: wile I have not recived payment yet intrest is building not nowing when will get paid very strest full is there any body we can ring at defra to find when payments is coming
  • Posted by: Simon TemplePosted on: 13/01/2016 19:25:40

    Comment: I have still not received my payment and I have not received any information as to why it has been delayed or as to when it might be paid.
  • Posted by: Charles BarrettPosted on: 13/01/2016 19:45:47

    Comment: Had letter in December stating payment will be delayed until after end of January. Quite simply this whole exercise has been a shambles, from computer programs that don't work to delayed payments. Some one should be accountable,the cost to the farming industry is huge at a time when commodity prices are in free fall. Please lobby harder and go to the top!
  • Posted by: Andrew BakerPosted on: 13/01/2016 20:03:28

    Comment: I still haven't received anything or any advise from DEFRA on when I'm going to be paid. I now have my overdraft to the max until they pay up.
  • Posted by: Charles StantonPosted on: 14/01/2016 08:56:28

    Comment: Thanks very much for keeping NFU members updated on BPS payments (or not being paid in my case!)I have just attempted to speak to somebody at RPA and am blocked by an rolling announcement about RPA's inability to discuss individual cases. I am aware that the RPA have not made many payments over the last 10 days. I am also aware of the RPA promise to pay 90% of outstanding BPS payments by the end of January but with a tax bill looming, experience of RPA past incompetence and a rumour that Natural England HLS payments are also late should I be concerned? I have not received any letter from RPA indicating payment after January either.
  • Posted by: Hywel WigleyPosted on: 14/01/2016 09:14:47

    Comment: thank you for your good work.would it be possible to pay a percentage to all farmers to keep us going.feed is needed for livestock, but no money to buy.
  • Posted by: J GreenPosted on: 18/01/2016 12:24:17

    Comment: I am checking our bank account on a daily basis, not knowing anything is so frustrating. As soon as the money comes in it will be paid out, we can't survive without it and our suppliers are having to wait to.
  • Posted by: Paul Nfu Member BQ32JPosted on: 19/01/2016 21:06:20

    If we have or have not received our 2015 BSP payment we are all well aware of the inability of the RPA to supply the funds they have available to them.
    Here are some questions the RPA/Goverment should be accountable for.
    1.After I submitted my application in April 2015 and even before the RPA had confirmed they had received it I was visited by a third party on their behave because their aerial photographs could not identify my crops. I grew six different crops but only the three largest areas were questioned. These were winter wheat,sugar beet and broccoli and they could not define between them. Surely it would have been better to look at these crops again in Aug/Sept/Oct when hopefully my wheat would not look so green but my beet should and the broccoli would not be there!
    2. As I farm in the south of my county and the inspector said he was from the north, surely a second photo would have saved his visit and then his expenses including travelling could have been added to my payment?
    3. Yes it's time to pay our income tax and I as many others received a letter from the RPA in December 2015 that my payment will not be processed until the following year. Would it be appropriate if we sent a similar letter to the Inland Revenue.
    4. Fortunately for the RPA they have a endless supply of money to pay for their mistakes,misjudgements and a small fortune to waste on a website that didn't work.Sorry the RPA do not have an endless supply of money, it is called OUR ENTITLEMENTS. If only us farmers could make so many expensive mistakes and be so immortal!

    And finally,are the RPA going to present us all with same unacceptable mess next year???????

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