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    RPA’S handling of SPS payments a "tragedy”
25/04/06

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.

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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 questions.
“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 farming families.”

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 December 2005.

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 undermined.

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.

link NFU cumbria still concerned about SPS part payment
link Partial payments of SPS to be launched "as soon as operationally possible"
link NFU warning to Beckett over Single Payment disaster
link UK dairy farmers urged to treat SFP separately
link NFU calls on RPA to make immediate part payments to farmers

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