The NFU has warned there seems to be a “worryingly high” number of errors on Basic Payment Scheme pre-populated forms and maps – increasing the pressure on farmers as the 15 June application deadline gets closer.
A survey of 260 farmers in England, carried out between 10 and 19 May, found 25% had identified mistakes with either their data or their maps. Nearly 10% of respondents also reported they had yet to be sent a form in the first place.
NFU vice-president Guy Smith said the survey figures were worrying and suggested that the Rural Payments Agency was struggling.
“We understand the RPA has been dealt a tricky hand. But if it still hadn’t got 10% of forms out by 15 May then there has to be question marks,” he said.
“We have 25% people who have found things are wrong – and they are the ones that know. How many more may not have realised and have inadvertently submitted an application that isn’t correct?”
Mr Smith said the agency seemed to be “almost in denial” over the number of people who had failed to be sent an application form. The NFU had supplied it with the names and addresses of over 80 businesses last week, he said. And there would be other businesses affected which the union would not know about.
The month’s extension to the deadline had been “wasted” by the a combination of the RPA and Defra dragging their feet in terms of getting paperwork out and making decisions that should have been made before, said Mr Smith.
“Now we must make sure Defra makes available the resources needed for the massive amount of work to do. There is a mountain to climb if they are to get payments out in December or January.”