In 2016, we saw a change in the requests for help we were receiving. In particular, we received a 67% rise in requests for help from working farmers, for a number of reasons.
Our CEO, Paul Burrows, said: “It’s been a challenging year for many in the farming sector with bad weather, animal disease, fluctuating commodity prices and late RPA payments all contributing to the difficulties encountered by some.
“Farmers, in our experience, do not want or readily seek charity. However, our message to them is ‘there is no shame in turning to R.A.B.I to help you through the bad times’.”
We gave more financial support to working farmers, farmworkers and their dependants in 2016 than the previous year, with grants of £450,000 last year compared to £269,000 in 2015.
In total, we provided grants of £2,035,702 to 1,357 farming families in 2016, a large increase on the previous year when the figure stood at £1.89m.
Counties receiving significant support included Devon, Suffolk, Cumbria, Norfolk, Lincolnshire, Shropshire, Cheshire, Cornwall and Somerset, but North Yorkshire came top of the list with grants of over £152,000.
Around £283,000 of grants were paid out in Wales, with more than £92,000 paid to working families.
We also supported flood victims in the north of England, primarily Cumbria, with emergency grants of £91,000 at the beginning of the year.
Across the board, R.A.B.I welfare officers continued to helped people claim state benefits to the value of £286,691.
Trish Pickford, R.A.B.I head of welfare, said: “Our welfare staff undertook a variety of training courses during 2016. The Universal Credit system is still being rolled out and staff are also getting to grips with more and more mandatory reconsiderations and appeals on behalf of people turned down for Employment and Support Allowance and Personal Independence Payments.
“We have also been involved with the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group regarding Universal Credit for the self-employed and are still very concerned about the impact this will have on farmers who have low incomes.”
Malcolm Thomas, R.A.B.I’s chairman, added: “There can be no doubt that there continues to be a great deal of hardship and suffering within our industry and the cases that appear before our grants committee are the clearest evidence that, for all sorts of reasons, people can find themselves in extremely difficult and harrowing circumstances. I often wonder what many of these people would do without the support that R.A.B.I is able to provide.”
If you or someone you know in farming is in need of help please call our free confidential Helpline on 0808 281 9490 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.