Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Basic Payment Delays Spark Demands for an Explanation of Failure

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Basic Payment Delays Spark Demands for an Explanation of Failure

Article excerpt

Byline: FARMING ROBERT GIBSON robert.gibson@trinitymirror.com

BOTH the National Farmers' Union and landowners' body CLA have expressed their disappointment at news that up to 9,000 Basic Payment System claimants will still be waiting for payments by the end of April.

The chief executive of the Rural Payments Agency (RPA), Mark Grimshaw, has confirmed that 90% of payments - originally expected to be made in January - will be paid by that point, with the remainder of the applicants receiving a "bridging payment" of at least 50% of what they normally would have received. NFU vice-president Guy Smith said: "The bridging payments announcement is something the NFU has been urging the RPA to do for many months and we welcome this.

"But this goes hand in hand with overbearing questions - when will the remaining thousands of farmers be paid the full amount and why wasn't this part payment made before? "More widely, we still want to know what the problem is with getting payments out and why the RPA failed to meet promises of payment made as recently as March.

"Our worry is that this is some sort of intrinsic IT problem that the RPA is struggling to fix.

"If this is the case it may come back to haunt us in the 2016 application year."

He added that the RPA was in danger of brushing over its mistakes rather than making muchneeded improvements for this year.

"This is something that David Cameron himself said was essential at Prime Minister's Questions last week," he said.

"Ploughing on with 2016 and waving 2015 mistakes goodbye is not good enough for the UK farming sector.

"We deserve an explanation as well as a better service for next year.

"There will likely be thousands of farmers wanting to apply for BPS for 2016. Feedback from the RPA, in the form of a claim statement, is much needed by the farmers whom RPA chief executive Mark Grimshaw is urging to be prompt with their 2016 applications. …

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