In 2017, we helped people from the agricultural sector claim record levels of state benefits. Our welfare team helped people claim £472,809 in state benefits last year, a 65% increase on the previous year’s figure of £286,691. This rise comes in the face of widespread cutbacks to many benefits.
Trish Pickford, Head of Welfare, said: “A lot of time and effort is going into providing information for people who contact us, which does not necessarily show up in our grant-giving statistics. This includes such things as signposting people to other charities, as well as giving advice on claiming benefits and Local Authority funding procedures.
“The nature of our work today is more time-consuming and more complex than in the past. People are falling through the net, being left with less money – or none at all – when benefits are stopped. Many also face the spectre of eviction and homelessness, while debt continues to be a big problem too.”
In 2017, we paid out grants of £1,990,262 to 1,260 individuals / families and this included grants of £297,416 to working people and their dependants.
The total sum paid out in 2017 also included:
Trish added: “Our welfare staff continue to take a variety of training courses, mainly in connection with Universal Credit – which is still being rolled out – and with mandatory reconsiderations and appeals on behalf of people turned down for Employment and Support Allowance and Personal Independence Payments.”
From January 1, 2018 we have increased our level of regular grants to those receiving long-term support. We have also taken on an additional regional officer, taking the number of welfare officers covering England and Wales to 14.
Paul Burrows, CEO, said: “Providing financial support for farming families is at the heart of what we do, but there’s a lot more to it than simply sending out cheques in the post.
“Our welfare officers understand farming and its issues. They take the time to visit people, build relationships and talk through problems and possible solutions.
“Many people contact us when they have nowhere else to turn. We work with them to give them renewed hope and tailor our support to suit their needs.”
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 email@example.com.
Please note that the figures quoted above are unaudited and, where appropriate, have been rounded up to the nearest thousand.