FCC letter asking for assurance that RPA wil play fair

We have just written to Liz Truss, Secretary of State Defra, Mark Grimshaw, CEO of RPA and our local MPs. We are asking for answers as to why no commoner has received their BPS 2015 payment yet. With the deadline for BPS 2016 applications coming up quickly, and commoners not having sight of their 2015 payment scehdule, we want assurances that their BPS 2016 claims will not be penalised as a result of RPA's maladministration.

Below is the text of the letter. We'll let you know when we get a response.

Dear Ms Truss,

The Federation of Cumbria Commoners represents around 500 commoners mainly in Cumbria, and includes commoners in Northumberland, Durham and Lancashire. We welcome Mark Grimshaw’s announcement that our members can expect to receive a bridging payment (around 50%) by the end of April as none of them have yet received payment. Indeed, this is something we have been asking for a long time. In our letter to George Eustice dated 15-12-2015 we requested that he consider “… to make a partial commons payment based on say 50% of the expected claim for common land.”

We would now like answers to the following questions. Please can you to follow them up with Mark Grimshaw.

  • Why wasn’t this part payment made before?
  • How could the RPA justify showing such a callous attitude to commoners many of whom are facing extreme financial pressure?
  • Why did the RPA fail to meet promises of payment made as recently as March?
  • When will the RPA commit to completely finishing 2015 payments?

It is still not clear how our members are supposed to complete their 2016 paperwork ahead of the 16th May deadline, placing them in an unreasonable position. Even if they wait until the last possible moment to make their application, there is no guarantee they will have had sight of their 2015 payment schedule. Please can you ask the RPA to provide assurances that 2016 claimants will not be penalised as a result of the RPA’s maladministration.

Equally, along with the National Sheep Association we would like to see the RPA exhibit a level of flexibility in the deadline dates for submission of the BPS 2016 application for those farmers specifically affected by failures in the system this year/last year. Asking them to submit paperwork now and then revisit it later is doubling the workload at a very busy time of year. Would it be possible for the RPA to give these commoners and farmers a later date for  submitting paperwork (that they know will be wrong) by requesting an extension from the EU?

Yours sincerely,

Viv Lewis
Part-time Administrator