In its written submission to the House of Commons EFRA select
committee, the NFU says the latest SPS payment figures and Margaret
Beckett’s decision – late in the day – to sanction
partial payments to farmers speak for themselves.
The NFU believes it is too early to formulate views about the
future of the RPA and its relationship with Defra. But the NFU
says it is clear that, in this instance, the combination of policy
making by Defra and delivery by its arms-length paying agency
has not proved to be a successful partnership.
After giving evidence to the committee today NFU Director General
Richard Macdonald said: “It is clear this inquiry is about
the whys and wherefores behind the current fiasco. We have been
pleased to answer the committee’s details and forensic
“But in the last analysis, the Government’s handling
of the Single Payment Scheme is – as we said in our submission – a
tragedy which has resulted in huge anxiety and hardship for many
The NFU evidence to the committee reveals that signs of slippage
in the RPA deadline began to appear in early 2005, with the announcement
by Defra that payments were unlikely to start until February
2006, as opposed to at the beginning of the payment window in
The document highlights to date less than 40 per cent of customers
have been paid and that crucially less than 25 per cent of the
total SPS funds have been paid out.
In conclusion the NFU describes the whole episode as a tragedy
and says many farmers have been placed in a position of genuine
anxiety and hardship with the UK’s position in Europe being
The NFU ends its submission by stating it looks forward to contributing
to the review of the RPA announced by the Secretary of State
with its concerns set to centre on whether an arms-length customer
delivery agency is the right model, on how adequate control and
reporting mechanisms can be assured, and how the inextricable
link between policy decisions and delivery capability is managed.
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