RPA must act on Public Accounts Committee criticism

guy smith with computer and papers, bps_27731

NFU Vice President Guy Smith

Financial pressures facing the farming industry have been exacerbated by the poor delivery of BPS, threatening food production.

That’s the verdict from the NFU following the publication of Public Accounts Committee report today. Along with an EFRA committee report, also released today, the findings strengthen calls from the NFU for the RPA to commit to timely payments and better, less ambiguous, communication.

The NFU added that trialing the online application system highlighted the serious problems associated with unreliable, and in some cases non-existent, rural broadband and put administrative burdens onto farmers when it failed.   

NFU Vice President Guy Smith said: “Farmers are working in a volatile world where market prices and weather have the power to make their businesses unprofitable almost instantaneously. British food production relies on this support to provide affordable, wholesome food to the growing population.

“No-one knows the real impact of CAP delivery going wrong better than farmers. Cash-flow problems have been both caused and made worse by the payments delays. And, to top this off, the communication from the RPA to farmers has been shambolic – farmers have largely been left in the dark on when their payment is going to come through.

“At the moment there are still farmers who haven’t been paid despite promises to pay the vast majority of claims by the end of January. We are urging the RPA to tie off all of the 2015 payments so RPA resources can focus on BPS 2016 applications. 

“We are on the eve of the rollout of the 2016 application process and the industry cannot afford any problems in the coming weeks. We are working to a May 16 deadline and there can be not slippage - if there are any problems, the RPA needs to be honest with industry.

“It’s essential that next year the RPA works to the recommendation of the EFRA committee and delivers 90 per cent of payments by the end of December. This is now a line in the sand for what payment timeframe is acceptable and one which the RPA cannot ignore.”

Last edited on: 02:03:2016

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  • Posted by: Christopher SturdyPosted on: 02/03/2016 20:26:26

    Comment: If the RPA did this small number (approx. 85,000) of applications by hand using graduates instead of their IT system, the problems would disappear, and at a fraction of the cost. This has been so since the beginning.
  • Posted by: Tom JeanesPosted on: 02/03/2016 21:14:47

    Comment: If the RPA would send half the previous years payment to all farmers that have yet to be paid, then many of the existing cash flow problems would be mitigated. The final balance should be paid by the beginning of the summer Tom Jeanes
  • Posted by: Robin GauntPosted on: 03/03/2016 14:33:37

    Comment: The Public Accounts Committee meeting regarding the RPA, as reported in the Times yesterday, accuses senior civil servants of "engaging in a 'childish turf war'". Heads should roll for all the damage these irresponsible people have caused and we should get paid immediately, or be compensated for all our losses and trauma.
  • Posted by: Christopher Evans Posted on: 03/03/2016 17:01:33

    Comment: 3rd March and still waiting for BPS, no enquiry from RPA or WA so cannt be any problems, just must be bottom of the pile and cross border. Rpa communication system is worthless and worse than when Sps came into existence. Rpa and Wales appear not in communication.
  • Posted by: Gordon HawcroftPosted on: 05/03/2016 11:37:03

    Comment: Firstly, how much does it cost to process my payment for 400 acres? Secondly what is so complicated? 400 x £80= £32,000 simple.....
  • Posted by: Charles LookerPosted on: 16/03/2016 11:26:33

    Comment: As well as being a farmer, I have six years experience of working full-time in a government agency (nothing to do with agriculture) on new IT projects. Apart from that, I have written software for a variety of commercial applications. 1. Based on what I can see now, I believe it is highly likely that last year's fiasco is going to be played out again. There are two months left to the submission date and no access to the main functionality. This leaves very little opportunity to put things right when they go wrong, as they do with all such projects. The only reliable way of checking whether it is going to work is to beta test it - try it out as nearly as possible in the exact environment in which it is going to be used. A beta version, including the main functionality, should have been released months ago and farmers encouraged to use it. 2. Because of changes in the rules, most of us made changes to our mapping last year. Exclamation marks on what there is of a mapping system are supposed to indicate that these changes are still being processed. Is there anybody out there who made mapping changes and doesn't have exclamation marks? You would expect to see some of these being cleared soon, or the submission process is going to be a disaster.
  • Posted by: Jonathan BellPosted on: 05/05/2016 21:40:31

    Comment: I agree with the above but feel that the NFU are too late and have done too little. This seems to be a reoccurring theme. Think about your members, not your surroundings, otherwise, you will not have any members. If you had done your job, BPS would not exist. It also seems you have resigned yourselves to the subsidy system. Very sad.

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