A FARMING family in South Lakeland cannot pay their bills because the Government has still not paid out vital funding to subsidise their business.

Mary and Gordon Capstick, who farm at Heversham, Milnthorpe, are among hundreds in the region still waiting for their single farm payments worth tens of thousands of pounds.

About 80 per cent of South Lakeland farmers have not been paid, according to Westmorland and Londsale MP Tim Farron, despite the Government starting the process in December.

Defra says the delay is mainly due to asking farmers to check discrepancies with land maps which determine how much money they will receive.

But Mrs Capstick says their maps were sorted in November, and now the family has no money in reserve.

“Our cash flow has ground to a halt. We have nothing left to sell because we are busy lambing, our overdraft limit is at the top, and we have business bills to pay such as buying fertiliser, feed and so on.

“We have never had a problem before but they have been doing satellite imaging in the area this year to check maps. The single farm payment is not an added extra - it is an essential part of farming for anyone.

“We have had so many poor years here and we can’t make any plans. For example, we desperately need a new quad bike but we can’t afford it.”

Meanwhile Mr Farron challenged Secretary of State Hilary Benn MP in the House of Commons to help farmers ‘avoid bankruptcy’ by providing interim funding to those waiting to receive their overdue money.

Mr Benn confirmed the Government was prepared to offer short term payments to farmers in ‘real dire circumstances’, offering a lifeline to those struggling to make ends meet.

Mr Farron, Liberal Democrat farming spokesman, said: “From my own local survey, I know that about 80 per cent of farmers in South Lakeland are still waiting to receive their farm payments.

“I’m extremely concerned that without short term payments many farming business could face collapse.”

Single farm payments are the principal agricultural subsidy scheme in the European Union and aim to reward farmers not just for food production, as with previous schemes, but for land management and environmental stewardship.

A spokeswoman for the Rural Payments Agency said it had between December 1 and the end of June to make the payments, but hoped everyone would have their money by May 31.

“We do understand how frustrating it is for our customers. Unfortunately, under the rules we have to complete all of the checks before we can make the payments.”