2,397 farmers still waiting for subsidy payments one year on - report

Farmers must meet a series of environmental criteria for the way their land is managed

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More than 2,000 farmers are still waiting for subsidy payments after more than a year, figures show.

Figures obtained by Labour reveal that 2,397 claims relating to unpaid "basic payments" for farmers in 2015 under the Europe-wide Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) are still being reviewed by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA).

In addition, 76 claims were still going through legal proceedings, answers by Farming Minister George Eustice to written parliamentary questions by shadow environment secretary Rachael Maskell show.

The Government and the RPA, which hands over the money - some £2 billion a year - to farmers, have come under fire for costs and delays in the system brought in to administer CAP payments under new regulations that came into force in 2014.

To get the subsidies each year, farmers must apply to the RPA by May, with payments starting in December, and meet a series of environmental criteria for the way their land is managed.

The Government said earlier in January that 91% of farmers, around 78,000 people, had received their 2016 payments by the end of December.

But the figures show some farmers are still waiting for issues on their 2015 payments to be resolved.

Ms Maskell said: "After more than a year, it's completely unacceptable that any farmers should still be waiting to receive the payments they are entitled to.

"But the fact that more than 2,000 claims are still under review is just shocking.

"This should be a wake-up call for the Government.

"Farmers still waiting for claims to be processed may be in serious financial difficulty, and the RPA needs to act now and clear this backlog as a matter of urgency."