RPA responsible for late payments

A growing number of farmers who have yet to receive cattle subsidy payments from the Rural Payments Agency have contacted Farmers Weekly to voice their frustrations in dealing with the government agency.

In an earlier request for information from the RPA (News, 16 Sept) Farmers Weekly discovered that about 500 farmers across the UK had yet to receive payments under the Beef Special Premium and Suckler Cow Premium schemes

One claimant, who preferred to remain anonymous, told how his nightmare began 18 months ago when the RPA office in Crewe added 1.74ha (4.3 acres) to his claim to balance it with previous years without first considering that the omission was deliberate.

“Had they asked I could have told them I was no longer renting that area of land, instead a basic error on their part has resulted in an unacceptable delay,” said the caller.

Reckoning to be due about 30,000 in a combination of bovine scheme payments he said not knowing when, if ever, the cheque might arrive has caused real difficulties for his business.

“I owe money to suppliers, I’ve had to delay payments on a new baler and I can’t service my debt,” he said.

As a short-term relief the bank had agreed an extension to his overdraft but not knowing when he could pay it back the bank has since called some of it in.

“It’s ironic, the bank manager told me I wasn’t capable of running my business because I couldn’t get my debtors to pay on time.

I’ve tried to explain but they just don’t understand the nature of the beast that you’re dealing with,” he added.

On one occasion staff at the RPA’s office in Crewe hung-up on the farmer before telling him that they were less concerned with his woes as they were to be made redundant at the end of the month.

“They just don’t appear bothered.

The RPA should be accountable for this.

It shouldn’t be allowed to happen.”

An RPA spokeswoman said they aim to have all outstanding claims, with the exception of those held up for legal reasons or reasons outside of their control such as probate or receivership, processed by the end of 2005.