Unsatisfactory and bland response from Minister to our letter
Our previous post on this website constained a copy of the e-mail we sent to Liz Tuss, Minister Defra. Yesterday (11th May) we received the following reply:
Thank you for your email of 25 April 2016 regarding the Basic Payment Scheme and representations you have received from the Federation of Cumbria Commoners and the National Sheep Association. We also received this correspondence from Tim Farron MP. I am forwarding below the response that was issued to Mr Farron.
As you are aware in the first year of this new scheme, with its additional scheme requirements and new administrative checks, it has been harder to complete processing on remaining claims than expected. I am acutely aware of the financial difficulties faced by the farming and wider rural community and we have now made bridging payments to all those not in receipt of a claim payment in April and that were due a BPS payment. I do understand bridging payments will bring only temporary relief while the Rural Payments Agency continues to complete processing of remaining claims. We have been able to take this measure as we have completed processing on around 91% of claims.
The challenges around the implementation of BPS in 2015 are well documented and we have had to make some difficult decisions. But our focus has always been to pay as many farmers as possible, as promptly as possible including those with common land. You will also be aware that there have been additional verification checks required as a result of a legal challenge on the methodology of the allocation of commons rights.
While the Rural Payments Agency recently tried to provide more certainty to farmers, the completion of claims proved harder than expected. I know that the Rural Payments Agency are disappointed that they haven’t been able to make the progress that they anticipated and I share that disappointment.
Nearly all BPS 2015 payments will need to be completed by the end of June. Those subject to probate will be resolved once legal proceedings have been completed.
Applications for 2016 are continuing to come in with over 39,000 having been successfully submitted. You would have seen that the advice the Rural Payments Agency is producing to assist farmers in applying for 2016. The agency will apply appropriate flexibility within the scope of the regulations. So our message is clear, we want as many farmers to apply for BPS 2016 as soon as they can to the best of their ability. While I understand that the EU are considering allowing Member States the option of extending the deadline for 2016 applications currently we do not see us doing this in England, this view is supported by the NFU.
Naomi Baxter | Official Correspondence Team | Customer Directorate