Farmers in Cumbria who have not received their desperately-needed farm payments by the end of April will receive a 50 per cent bridging payment.

Rural Payments Agency (RPA) chief executive Mark Grimshaw broke the news at a National Farmers Union council this week.

The agency said the payments were likely to be made to 10 per cent of BPS claimants. The money will initially be paid from central Government Exchequer funds until claims are validated and funds can be reclaimed from Europe.

Mr Grimshaw insisted full payments would be completed by the end of the payment window at the end of June.

Angry NFU Cumbrian council member Alistair Mackintosh said: "This means he has admitted defeat. We have to accept this is a positive move, but it is late in the day. 

"We could have had this coming months ago."

Mr Grimshaw told the NFU council he "fully understood the frustration and anxiety" being felt by farmers who are still waiting for their money, most of which are waiting because they are commons or cross border claims or were subject to inspections.

His announcement came as a prominent Cumbrian farmer urged the government to come clean over the timing of farm payments to the county's already-struggling graziers.

Julia Aglionby, chairman of the Foundation for Common Land, claimed the Rural Payment Agency's failings had put already struggling commons farmers, under 'extreme financial pressure'.

It is believed none of the hundreds of the county's common land farmers have to date received their 2015 Basic Payment Scheme subsidy.

In early March Mr Grimshaw assured MPs the agency was on course to deliver "pretty much all of the outstanding commons BPS payments, about 3,500 nationally, during March, except those linked to complex cases".

Dr Aglionby, who herself farms in the county, said: "Mark Grimshaw failed to deliver on his assurances to Parliament's Efra Committee.

"He told Efra that 3,500 commoners would be paid by the end of March, but by mid April fewer than 1000 commoners have been paid.

He raised expectations among farmers who look after commons, our most designated countryside, and he had not delivered."

She had urged the RPA to be straight with the commoners and to make partial payments.

"It is important that commoners are not abandoned," she said.

Leader of the Liberal Democrats and Cumbrian MP Tim Farron accused the government of neglecting common land farmers in order to make its payment figures look better.

"Basic Payment Scheme claims relating to common land have been put to the bottom of the processing pile, meaning that many local farmers have still not received their payments for 2015," he said.

In a response to a letter from Mr Farron, the Farming Minister George Eustice MP justified this approach, saying that "the RPA has had to make some tough decisions to maximise the number of claims that they could pay. Common land claims can be more complex to process… payments will start once they have resolved all outstanding queries". 

Mr Farron added: "The government is showing a callous attitude towards farmers who are facing a desperate struggle to survive. 

"Local farmers had expected this money four months ago, yet many have still not received it. Farmers cannot plan ahead when they face this uncertainty. 

"The farm payments system has been a complete shambles this year, and it is common land farmers who are bearing the brunt of this."