Comment: The RPA deserves a good telling off

“You should know already that I hate the single farm payment.  My feelings have never been ambiguous on the matter,” writes FW columnist Matthew Naylor

“Short of wearing a sandwich board all the time with “I hate the single farm payment” on it and carrying a megaphone shouting “Oh yea, Oh yea, I hate the single farm payment” whenever I go anywhere, there is very little more that I can do to make my feelings plain. 

I hate the principles behind it, I hate the way it is is structured and, most of all, I hate the way that it has been implemented and administered.  Oh, and I hate the logo.

This is why I am jolly glad that the parlimentary ombudsman has given the Rural Payments Agency a telling off. 

There is a world of difference between a bad government plan and a badly-implemented government plan.  The single farm payment has been both of these things. 

It has not influenced the reform of British agriculture and the systems and payment schedules have actually distracted farmers from the running of their businesses.  The most annoying thing is the stupendous arrogance that has accompanied the Rural Payments Agency failures.  They had to be brought to account.

It is almost irrelevant that the money is going on such a worthless cause as historic farm payments.  The point of principle here is that this is public money and these people are public servants. 

This is a badly-run government agency.  Are our health service, our education system or the prison in such a wasteful and incompetent fashion?  

I have had to make many telephone calls to the RPA over the years (the complexity of our claim is wildly disproportionate to its value) and I have always found the staff to be efficient, intelligent, polite and helpful.  The problems must be at the management and strategic levels.

So there you go. That’s why I hate the single farm payment. You might think that I’m a hypocrite. When we get our payment this year (at somewhere between £15 and £20k it will be the most that we have ever had) then I will smile like everyone else; I won’t be sending it back. 

My justification is that unlike most farms our tax bill is always significantly greater than our SPS receipt – it would be wrong if we had to subsidise other farmers any more than the law forces us to already.”

You can read more from Matthew and add your own comments on his blog.

See more