The Rural Payments Agency says it is still trying to resolve problems with accessing SPS online which have been dogging the system for the past five days.

In a statement issued on Wednesday evening (16 April), the agency said the difficulties users had been facing had reduced, but it was too soon to say whether the problem had been fixed.

See more: Farmers frustrated by online SPS problems

“There is an intermittent problem with the Government Gateway which is affecting a number of government services, including SPS Online,” said a spokesman.

“Clearly this is very frustrating for our customers and we are in regular contact with the Government Gateway which is aware of the urgency in resolving the problem and is working hard to fix it as quickly as possible.
“SPS Online itself is  working normally but there is a problem with the way it interacts with the Government Gateway.”

The problem has raised questions about the government’s readiness to move to an online only application process for the new Basic Payments Scheme from 2015.

Farmers and land agents first reported the problem at the start of the week, complaining it was taking up to an hour to log-into SPS online if they could at all.

The deadline for SPS applications is 15 May 2014.

UPDATE: The Rural Payments Agency released an updated statement to Farmers Weekly at midday on Thursday 17 April. 

“We continue to receive some reports that a small number of applicants are experiencing problems with submitting their forms,” it said. 

“We continue to work hard to resolve this intermittent issue as soon as possible.”