Problems with the Rural Payments Agency’s SPS Online service have re-emerged, leaving farmers struggling to put in an application ahead of the 15 May deadline.
The RPA was forced to admit that computer problems had shut down its SPS Online system yet again on Monday morning (12 May).
It said farmers were reporting difficulties logging into SPS Online and in submitting their claims.
“This is an intermittent problem and we are working hard to fix it as soon as we can,” said an RPA statement.
“When making your application on SPS Online, please remember to save any changes you make as you go along.
“If you have any problems when you submit an application, please check your emails to see if you’ve received a receipt. If you’re not sure if your application has been submitted successfully, log back into SPS Online to check.”
Computer glitches have dogged the system since Easter, undermining farmers’ confidence in a platform that the government is keen all farmers should embrace.
To make issues worse, SPS Online will be also be unavailable between 9pm and 10pm this evening.
This is due to essential planned maintenance work on the Government Gateway, which means all Government Gateway services will be affected.
Richard Wordsworth, NFU SPS adviser, said the union was frustrated that issues at the RPA had yet to be resolved.
“They switch it off and reboot it and it seems to work, then something seems to trigger problems again,” he said.
The NFU is lobbying for the RPA to re-open drop-in centres so farmers can deliver paper forms in person in order to meet the deadline.
It is also reminding farmers they can amend their claims up to 2 June without penalty, if their form is submitted by 15 May.