The NFU is encouraged by the RPA hitting its own target of paying 90% of eligible farmers their 2016 payments by 31 December, but says there is much still to do.
The NFU says the RPA now needs to double its efforts to ensure either all outstanding BPS claims are resolved before the month is out or that bridging payments are actioned.
On top of this it is urging the RPA to ensure the remainder of 2015 and 2016 claim issues are addressed by the end of January. These include not only cross border claims and those with common land, but also the remainder of 2015 claim issues that remain.
If this is not achievable, the NFU believes the RPA need to immediately action bridging payments, which the NFU has asked for on previous occasions.
NFU Vice President Guy Smith welcomed the RPA’s progress. He said: “This is good news. We congratulate the RPA for putting the painful procrastination that was BPS 2015/16 behind them and improving performance.
“BPS payments don’t just help the cash flows for farm businesses but also the wider rural economy as farmers use the money to pay for goods and services.
“However we are hearing from plenty of members still not paid and from others who don’t think they have been paid the right amount. So amidst our congratulations we remind the RPA there is much still to do.”
“We welcome the RPA re-introducing whole case workers for those not paid at this point, but we also want to see all outstanding queries addressed as soon as possible to allow farmers to complete their forthcoming 2017 applications with greater confidence than in previous years.
“To help the situation, the RPA needs to improve on its communication and support for those that still have issues, many are still in the dark as a result of poor RPA customer service to this point.”
NFU will shortly be carrying out a survey of members to ascertain the impact of payments made and the work that is needed to put things right.