The CLA has called on Defra to adopt an action plan to immediately address ongoing issues with BPS payments.
The organisation, which represents landowners, farmers and rural businesses, has written to Defra Permanent Secretary Clare Moriarty who has been tasked with co-ordinating the clearing up of BPS payments for 2015.
The letter reaffirms the CLA’s commitment to playing a constructive role in helping Defra and the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) deliver outstanding payments for 2015, outlining an urgent four-point action plan to help resolve the current crisis.
Measures in the plan include:
- Contacting all claimants individually who have been subject to mapping changes individually, giving them an appropriate chance to respond before any changes are finalised;
- Individually contacting all farmers who have not yet received payment to explain why not;
- Offer face-to-face meetings with claimants where it would speed up a resolution of outstanding issues;
- Reintroducing directly accessible whole case workers to help support claimants and ensure that their claims are being treated as a priority.
CLA President Ross Murray said: “Now that the window for claiming or amending 2016 applications without penalty has closed, Government must act swiftly to put an end to 2015 payment delays but also make longer term commitments to farmers to resolve these ongoing issues. We must remind Defra that much of the expenditure incurred by farmers in 2015 was in fact incurred from as long ago as autumn 2014.
“All bridging payments must be converted to accurate full payments by 28 June or claimants must receive an interest payment commensurate to the financial difficulties caused by the delays.
“It is also vital that the RPA also confirms that 2016 claimants will not be penalised as a result of unresolved problems with 2015 claims.
“Only once these measures are in place will the RPA begin to get the system of farm payments back on track and start to rebuild the trust which has been lost through continued delays and miscommunication.
“In due course Government must put in place a specific review of the handling of claims in respect of commons which have proved particularly difficult and distressing for some of the hardest pressed farmers in our industry.”