TFA Cymru: Rural Payments Wales must extend its one to one support

TFA Cymru has expressed its concern over the limited resources being provided by Rural Payments Wales (RPW) for one to one support for farmers completing online Single Application Forms (SAF) for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS).

TFA Cymru Chairman, Dennis Matheson said “With all SAF having to be completed online this year, farmers will need all the support they can get. It is concerning and nonsense to hear that when farmers telephone RPW to book an advisory appointment they are being told that they will have to wait at least one month before they can be seen. This means that those who do not book early enough will not be able to have the support they need before the SAF 2016 closing date in the middle of May, which is very worrying indeed”.

“RPW has issued helpful guidance to assist individuals in completing online applications however this is very much tailored to those who are used to using computers in making online applications. The guidance does include a range of demonstration videos to show the main functionality of the online system including sketch maps, Ecological Focus Areas and using the interactive map and whilst I welcome this for those who feel confident to use the online system, it is a foreign country to those who are not computer literate. TFA Cymru wants to help RPW in encouraging individuals to go down the online route but we must have adequately supported advisory services if this is to be achieved,” said Mr Matheson.

“With 2016 being the first year which the Welsh Government has made it compulsory for applicants to apply online for BPS, it is essential that the necessary support and resources are readily available for claimants. On top of the need for developing IT skills of claimants, there are many Welsh farmers living in remote areas of the country who simply do not have adequate internet connectivity. The one to one support service will be a lifeline for many farmers and it will be a disaster if, as appears will be the case, many farmers who need it will miss out due to lack of adequate resources from RPW. I am sure that many of these will be those who are hard to reach in the farming community and who need the most help in accessing up to date technologies,” said Mr Matheson.

“This is another area which highlights the importance of stakeholder engagement with the Welsh Government and its agencies. TFA Cymru had been warning that an online only solution for BPS was never going to work,” said Mr Matheson.

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