The Rural Payments Agency has been forced to admit that it has overpaid millions of pounds in single farm payments.

The overpayments, to a total of about 1300 producers, were identified during routine checks, although many farmers had also contacted the RPA about the issue.

 The checks have revealed that over the last few days, 515 customers were incorrectly sent payable orders (cheques) worth £14.9 million.

The error was identified after payments had been dispatched and the cheques were revoked immediately.

Customers are being contacted directly to advise them of the error and that they will receive the correct payment via BACS payment next week.

Another 762 claimants were also overpaid by £5 million in June and RPA is writing to these customers to outline further actions to reclaim the overpayment, which the agency says it is obliged to do under EU regulations.
 
RPA interim chief executive Tony Cooper said: “I am very aware the service provided by RPA is well below acceptable levels.

“While I am pleased the checking procedures identified the issues I wish to apologise to all customers who have been affected this year and the further inconvenience caused by these overpayments.
 
“The agency will continue to make remaining payments as quickly as possible and I would like to thank all customers for their understanding and tolerance.”

Single Farm Payment Scheme Special Report