The farming charity the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) helped members of the agricultural sector claim £472,809 in aid during 2017, an increase of 39% from the previous year’s total of £286,691.

The charity also paid grants totalling £1,990,262 to 1,260 individuals or families, including £297,416 to working people and their dependants. The grants included £58,000 for home-help costs; £216,000 towards care home top-up fees and £146,000 on disability equipment and home adaptations. From January 1st 2018, the charity has increased its level of regular grants to those in long-term need of support.

Trish Pickford, head of welfare at RABI, 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.”

Paul Burrows, RABI chief executive adds: “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.”