The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (R.A.B.I) has been providing financial assistance to people in hardship from the farming sector since 1860. In 2016, R.A.B.I paid out grants of £2,035,702 to 1,357 families. That represents a big increase on the previous year, in which the charity gave out grants of around £1.89m.

In the early part of 2016, R.A.B.I was busy helping flood victims in the north of England (primarily Cumbria), giving out emergency grants of £91k. However, the real story of the year was the number of claims received from working farmers, farmworkers and their dependants with £450,169 paid to 216 cases. In 2015, the charity gave out around £269k to working people and/or dependants.

Paul Burrows, R.A.B.I CEO, 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’.”

Across the board, R.A.B.I welfare officers also helped people claim £286,691 in state benefits.

The county that received the most support was North Yorkshire, with grants of £152,428. Around £283k was also given out in Wales, with more than £92k paid to working families. Other counties receiving significant support included Devon, Suffolk, Cumbria, Norfolk, Lincolnshire, Shropshire, Cheshire, Cornwall and Somerset.

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.”

R.A.B.I chairman Malcolm Thomas 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 the Freephone Helpline 0808 281 9490.