Debts and bills are stacking up on the kitchen tables of struggling Cumbrian graziers facing another year of hardship because many have yet to receive a penny of their 2015 farm payment.

Now a full explanation has been demanded by countryside and farming leaders into why no money has been paid to those farmers looking after a number of commons in Cumbria.

The National Farmers Union (NFU), Country Land and Business Association (CLA) and the Federation of Cumbria Commoners have banded together and written to the Rural Payments Agency insisting they meet Cumbrian commoners in person to explain what has gone wrong.

No money has been paid to farmers looking after Birkrigg Common; Dunnerdale Fell; Woodland Fell; Torver Commons; Mungrisedale Common; Caldbeck Common; East Stainmore Common; Hartley Common and Carrack Commons. Farmers in neighbouring Lancashire have also been affected.

Joe Relph, chairman of Cumbria Commoners said an immediate response was needed from the RPA as to why farmers’ 2015 Basic Payment Scheme common land payment is now months overdue.

“This delay has added unnecessary extra financial pressure on top of all the hardship people have had to face with last year’s December floods. It is not acceptable when commoners have honoured and abided by the rules of the 2015 BPS scheme,” said Mr Relph.

The three organisations want to know why farmers who have only had a bridging payment so far have not received a top-up payment, what the prospects are of commoners and upland farmers receiving their 2016 BPS payments this December, and what measures are being put in place to stop the same thing happening again next year.

NFU Cumbria county chairman, David Raine, who farms sheep in Kirkoswald, said it was clear that lessons had not been learnt and that was “unforgivable”.

“What really disappoints me is that this is an issue we have raised with ministers and the RPA in 2015 concerning late payment of Single Payment Scheme 2014 on common land. We suggested then that payments should be made immediately using the previous year’s data, and I find myself doing exactly the same thing 12 months on.”

CLA Cumbria chairman, Mark Southern, who farms near Ulverston, said it was an “unacceptable” situation that the RPA was withholding vital payments to hill farmers, whose businesses operate on incredibly tight margins.

“I see no reason why an interim payment cannot be made to help alleviate the problems being caused by the continuing delay. The RPA must be held accountable and step forward to offer some kind of explanation to those of us affected,” said Mr Southern.

One Cumbrian MP has joined the battle saying “utter incompetence” of the RPA will leave taxpayers to foot the bill. Tim Farron is demanding immediate action from Environment Secretary, Andrea Leadson.

He says the final deadline for completing payments is fast approaching and any payments not made by October 14 will not be eligible for EU funding and will instead have to be funded by the UK Treasury.

Farmers originally expected their farm support payments nine months ago. The previous year, 97 per cent of farmers had received their payments by the end of December.

Mr Farron said: “Far too many local farmers have received an atrocious level of service from the RPA this year, with many still now waiting for payments. Shockingly, the RPA all too often simply has no idea when payments will be made – they have even resorted to advising claimants to contact charities to tide them over.

“With the deadline rapidly looming, it is not just farmers but now also taxpayers who will pay the price for the RPA’s incompetence. The RPA must make any remaining payments without delay, otherwise UK taxpayers will effectively be left to pay twice for this support.

“Andrea Leadsom must take control of what is happening in her department to ensure not just that this year’s payments are made immediately, but also that this shambles is not repeated next year.”

Sheep farmer, Thomas Binns, who represents uplands farmers in Cheshire, Cumbria and Lancashire for the NFU, said: “It is a disgrace that farmers in Cumbria and Lancashire are still awaiting BPS 2015 payments for their common land when we are only two months away from the 2016 payment window opening.

“For the last 10 months they have been anticipating a payment which so far has never materialised. Debts and bills are stacking up on farm kitchen tables, and this ultimately puts unneeded financial pressure on them and the many allied businesses which serve these farms.”