The government’s financial watchdog, the National Audit Office, is to investigate the late payments debacle in England.

The investigation will look into the failure of the Rural Payments Agency to meet its targets of paying 96% of single farm payments by the end of March 2006.

Instead of the 96% of the £1.6bn owing to farmers just 8% had been paid by the target date, a spokesman said.

In addition to this we will investigate the impact of late payments on the farming sector and what has been done by the RPA to remedy matters, he added.

The report will be published in the late summer or early autumn 2006.