The NFU has today called on the RPA to provide certainty for the 8,000+ claimants who still may be waiting for their BPS claims in the form of bridging payments, like their counterparts in Scotland and Wales.
The call comes as farmers await the RPA’s performance update, where it will announce if they have hit their target of 90% of BPS claimants paid by the end of December. The NFU says, while hoping the RPA has met its target, that 10% of farmers will still be left waiting.
NFU Vice President Guy Smith commented: “We have not forgotten that thousands of farmers are still waiting and this causes real problems with cash flow when running a farm business. The vast majority of those still waiting are doing so through no fault of their own. It is the RPA’s process that is causing the delay.
“Accordingly we are calling for bridging payments as soon as possible for those unpaid. Defra should at the very least match for English farmers what has been done in Scotland and Wales when it comes to bridging payments.
“Furthermore we are aware of many of those paid who feel they have not been paid correctly. This is adding to the already unacceptable amount of outstanding workload at the RPA due to 2015/2016 issues still unresolved. Again we are calling on Defra to make sure its delivery agency has the necessary resources to function properly.
“Finally to add to the pressure we are hearing from a lot of members expressing concerns about the changes being made to the Rural Land Register due to the remapping exercise that has been ongoing since the summer. We fear the RPA has a mountain of RLE1 correction forms coming its way. Again, the RPA need to make sure it has the necessary resource to deal with this extra workload. To deal with these strains in the system the RPA needs to reintroduce whole case-workers that are familiar with a farmer’s claim that the farmer can talk to directly. We would also like to see the reintroduction of regional walk-in centres where farmers can take maps and data to talk to someone direct.”