Third bank commits to aid farm customers

Farming Minister George Eustice has had to reassure MPs over the issuing of payments.
Farming Minister George Eustice has had to reassure MPs over the issuing of payments.
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LLOYDS BANK is the latest financial institution to commit to providing a support package for farmers who find themselves facing a wait for vital subsidy money.

The farming community remains concerned that changes to the way individual farmers have had to apply for the EU’s new Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) will lead to some businesses receiving their payments months after the payment window opens in December.

Failures involving a £154m computer system set up by the Rural Payments Agency – the body that administers payments to the country’s farmers from the European Parliament – saw the online-only application process abandoned in March.

It signalled a return to paper form applications and led to Farming Minister George Eustice having to reassure MPs during questions in the House of Commons that payments would start to be sent out when the payment window opens at the end of the year.

Nonetheless, Ian Burrow, head of agriculture and renewable energy at NatWest and RBS, earlier this month advised farmers to plan for the possibility of a two or three month delay. He said existing farming customers of both banks would be able to apply for a bridging loan to borrow a significant proportion of the amount they expect to receive from the BPS if their payments are delayed.

Now, Lloyds has confirmed its position.

Andrew Naylor, head of agriculture at the bank, said: “As a safeguard against the possibility of late BPS payments this year, Lloyds Bank Agriculture has been working for several months on a support package for farmers who could be disadvantaged by such an event.

“The final details are yet to be announced. However, we can confirm that should payments be delayed, the provision will be available from the date the payment should have been received, and will offer affected customers an opportunity to access the working capital they need.

“We will be writing to all our farming customers with the details of this package in due course.”

The BPS application deadline is Monday and earlier this week thousands of applications were yet to be completed.