As the window for claiming the next round of farm payments closes at midnight tonight, it has been revealed Cumbrian commoners could be waiting up to another three months for their 2015 farm payment.

Although Rural Payments Agency boss Mark Grimshaw has indicated they are on track to pay those with common land by the end of June, Cumbrian farmer Alistair Mackintosh is convinced it is more likely to be September.

“It’s ridiculous we still have farmers in Cumbria who are waiting for full payments, and many whose payments are incorrect for the 2015 Basic Payment Scheme,” said Mr Mackintosh, National Farmers Union Cumbrian council delegate.

It is believed several thousand farmers in England are waiting for a top-up payment to their bridging loan, while several thousand more believe they have been underpaid as a result of an RPA error and have lodged queries with the agency.

A number of the affected farmers are on cross border holdings, where payments are still outstanding because it has proved impossible to share data between the RPA and Rural Payments Scotland.

Tonight at midnight is the final deadline for farmers to apply for the 2016 BPS, and the RPA is warning that a one per cent penalty apply for every working day that applications are received after the initial May 16 deadline.

For those applying for new entitlements from the national reserve, the penalty rate is three per cent.

A range of support is still available in person, and by telephone, until 5pm, and online until midnight, on final deadline day.

This support includes: A dedicated Rural Services helpline on 03000 200 301, open from 8.30am to 5pm; and online support centres in Reading, Newcastle, Workington, Carlisle and Exeter open from 9am to 5pm – arrive by 4pm if visiting without an appointment.

After midnight tonight applications will not be accepted, except for exceptional circumstances. Claimants can find further information online at GOV.UK/rpa/bps2016 in the BPS 2016 scheme rules (page 109).

Online applicants can easily check their claim has been received by clicking on the ‘Apply for BPS’ screen on the Rural Payments service. Receipts are also being sent out for applications submitted by paper.

Farmers can notify the RPA of errors in their application without penalty at any time provided RPA has not already told them about it or they have had a notice of an inspection. Claimants can find further information online at GOV.UK/rpa/bps2016 in the BPS 2016 scheme rules (page 7).

Under EU regulations, the payment window for BPS runs from December 1 to June 30, with interest paid on any money received by farmers after that date.

However, it has emerged that the EU Commission is currently considering extending this deadline until October 15 to give member states more time to pay.

Mr Mackintosh said if this was the case, the NFU was adamant that farmers should be paid interest on any money paid after the end of June.

The Country Land and Business Association said the government needed to put an urgent action plan in place to address the ongoing issues.

The organisation has called for the RPA to contact, individually, any farmer yet to receive a payment to explain why not, and to offer face-to-face meeting with claimants to speed up the resolution of outstanding issues.

It has also suggested contacting all claimants who have been subject to mapping changes to give them a chance to respond before any changes are finalised.

The reintroduction of dedicated case workers would also help support claimants, it added.