Apologise to farmers, RPA told

The Rural Payments Agency has been told to apologise and pay compensation for its handing of the single farm payment.

In a report published on Wednesday (16 December), Parliamentary Ombudsman Ann Abraham said the failures of the Single Payment Scheme had taken a personal and financial toll on farmers.

The report, which investigated the effects of payment delays on farmers, criticised the agency for its maladministration and failing to keep farmers updated.

“It also saddens me that a public body refuses to provide relatively modest financial remedy for substantive injustice to people whose complaints have been upheld following an independent investigation,” she added.

Speaking on the BBC’s Today programme, Ms Abraham said it had only been the sixth time in the Ombudsman’s 40 year history that it had put a report to parliament to complain about the actions of an agency.

She branded the RPA as “arrogant” for failing to face up to its errors and for refusing to go through its records to properly compensate those farmers affected by the payments fiasco.

A DEFRA spokesman said successive department ministers had apologised for the difficulties farmers faced when the SPS was introduced in 2005.

“Those affected also received interest, where this amounted to £50 or more, in lieu of compensation where payments were made after the legal deadline,” he said.

“The Department agrees with the Ombudsman that a personal apology should be sent to the farmers covered in her report along with a consolatory payment where justified.

“This will now be done. However, it remains of the view that there is no basis for making further payments related to estimated financial losses.”

The Ombudsman’s report came on the same day the RPA was put on report by the Public Accounts Committee for its “systematic failures” in delivering single farm payments.

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