RPA faces growing pressure over late BPS 2015 payments

Calls are mounting for the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) to pay farmers who are still waiting to receive last year’s annual subsidy claim.

The Foundation for Common Land has written to Defra secretary Andrea Leadsom about ongoing delays to 2015 Basic Payment Scheme payments for common land claims.

The letter highlights the inability of the RPA to inform claimants how their payments have been calculated, a lack of reporting capacity and the lack of transparency.

See also: Schoolchildren collect food parcels for hill farmers

Suspected errors

It also highlights suspected errors in calculating the eligible area of common land and mistakes in determining split-right allocations of common land.

In some cases, commons rights have been incorrectly allocated, with no livestock units appearing as being claimed, says the letter.

Foundation chief executive Julia Aglionby called on Mrs Leadsom to “require the RPA to pay proper attention to rectifying and finalising commoners’ 2015 claims”.

She also asked Mrs Leadsom to ensure that claimants are provided with access to the maps and a detailed breakdown of how their allocated area has been determined. The letter was endorsed by the NFU.

NFU uplands chairman Robin Milton said: “It is unacceptable that so many 2015 payments on common land are incorrect, unclear or outstanding.”

Earlier this week, the National Sheep Association (NSA) also voiced concern over delays to BPS payments.

Commons payments ‘prove challenging’

An RPA spokesperson said: “We understand the importance of BPS payments for farmers and our priority has been to pay as many farmers as possible as quickly as possible.

“All eligible farmers have received a payment on their 2015 BPS claim apart from exceptional cases, such as those that cannot be paid for legal reasons such as probate.

“Making payments on large commons has proved challenging in the first year of BPS.

“This was down to multiple and often very large land parcels, many commoners claiming BPS and a complicated historical allocation of grazing rights.

“The RPA will make any remaining payments as swiftly as possible. A remittance advice and claim statement will be issued once the claims are paid.”

BPS Watch – keeping tabs on payments

Ongoing delays in 2015 support payments caused huge cashflow problems, stress and anxiety for thousands of farmers.

That is why Farmers Weekly has launched “BPS Watch”, designed to hold Defra and the Rural Payments Agency to account for their promises.

Our initiative – which will also cover Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – will focus on farmers and feature regular stories and payment updates, as we strive to keep government departments and agencies on track.

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