Senior BPS adviser Richard Wordsworth looks at the current situation on farm payments and explains how we're working to help members get their money as soon as possible.
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What we all wanted was a level of certainty around when payments would arrive and to manage the intervening situation if payments were not forthcoming at the start of December. It is worth pointing out that at 1 December every previous year there has always been a proportion of the claims not ready to pay. This year that percentage is greater than any of us wanted to see.
Frustratingly the RPA is not making the messaging around the letters easy for anyone. They say that letters are only going to farmers in the ‘complex’ categories, but many do not believe their claims - even within the new world of BPS and greening - are even close to being complicated.
The RPA says: “There may be other factors affecting a customer’s claim and we don’t want people to take false comfort that, if they don’t get a letter, they will definitely get paid as part of the majority/vast majority. Most will, clearly, but some may not. We will be following up the first letter with more detailed communications to the affected customers.”
So, what are we doing for you?
We know how important your BPS payments are to your business. Ever since it became clear, well over a year ago, that the implementation and delivery of an application process and subsequent payments were going to be a significant challenge to the industry, the NFU has been leading the way in working with RPA to minimise the level of risk to payment disruption. Here’s just a few of the things we’ve been working on on your behalf:
- Monitoring and challenging the RPA over their progress of processing 2015 BPS applications
- Getting BPS back on track following the move to paper forms and extended claim deadline. Has RPA got the resources to make payments as soon as possible?
- Challenging RPA plans to communicate and deliver payments to members
- Raising concerns for those most likely to be impacted by delayed payments
- Pushing for partial payments for those not paid early in December / January
- Speaking to Banks / HMRC – explaining the issues
- Meeting RPA Directors – explaining the need for prompt payments and challenging their plans
- Supporting members with BPS concerns, be that payments, technical issues for example.
Added to this list, only this week we have raised members' key concerns after much of northern England was hit by Storm Desmond (read more here)
A final point
The RPA is also increasing contact with farmers regarding the paperwork that was submitted earlier this year. It is understandably frustrating to only now find out if there is an issue around your claim. The best advice I can give is to respond promptly to RPA queries, but read the BPS guidance first. This will minimise any potential delay in payment.
Keep up-to-date on BPS
For the latest on BPS payments refer to NFU Bulletin, go to the dedicated BPS pages on NFUOnline or call NFU Callfirst on 0370 845 8458. Finally, here's a short list of BPS information that we have produced in the last week for members: