Banks asked to help farmers hit by delays

MINISTERS have asked banks to help out farmers who hit financial problems because of delays in paying their subsidies.

Farming Minister Jim Paice said most farmers should now receive their payments by the end of June but has had to resort to processing 2,000 claims by hand because of computer problems that have left some farmers out of pocket.

Farmers leaders criticised him for failing to go further and making partial payments to some of the others affected, and warned he and the troubled Rural Payments Agency, which is responsible for making the payments, will be “held to account” if there are no improvements next year.

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Mr Paice revealed yesterday that 6,300 claims worth £215m are still to be paid and said farmers’ frustrations “have been made very clear to me”.

Ministers blame “legacy” problems from the chaotic system set up by the previous Government and have appealed to banks to stop viable businesses going under because of the delays.

Directors of major banks have been asked by Farming Minister Jim Paice to alert staff to the situation and urged to be “understanding in meeting reasonable requests by farmers for assistance”.

About 2,000 farmers will now have their claims dealt with manually, while those whose claims have been held up because of queries relating to previous years will now receive their 2010 payment while other issues are resolved.

But Country Land and Business Association President William Worsley warned: “Farmers cannot be expected to live on promises.”