DEFRA has been forced to return more than £200m to the EU over the past five years for breaches of the UK’s CAP requirements, according to the Lib-Dems.

A parliamentary question tabled by Liberal Democrat shadow DEFRA secretary Tim Farron MP revealed that the Rural Payments Agency has had “financial corrections” totalling £200,456,000 imposed by the EU Commission since 2004-5.

Most of that figure came in a £140,475,000 correction applied in 2008-9, in part for failing to meet payment deadlines in regard to the 2005 Single Payment Scheme.

“The enormous cost to the British taxpayer and to our farmers of the government’s failure to issue payments promptly is now clear for all to see,” said Mr Farron.

“The RPA needs to be radically overhauled so that funds are quickly delivered to our hardworking and hard-pressed farmers.”