The CLA has called on the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) to open its doors immediately to avoid delays in the lead up to the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) 2018 application window closing date of 15 May.
This year, the RPA has decided to reduce the availability of drop-in centres where farmers can take important supporting documents for BPS claims. These are offices where RPA staff are working but are not prepared to receive the papers.
Proactive land change detection and inaccurate hedge mapping data has resulted in many more farmers and agents needing to submit RLE1 forms than previous years. The problem is further compounded by the late opening of the application window.
CLA Deputy President Mark Bridgeman said: “The drop-in centres are so important for farmers and their agents because some documents for BPS claims cannot be submitted online. Having access to this face-to-face service is a crucial part of helping the process to run smoothly and not result in delays to payments.
“Reducing the availability of these centres will place greater pressure on RPA staff to complete BPS administration in the lead-up to the 15 May deadline and could mean farmers are wasting time waiting around in unnecessary queues once the centres are officially open in May for the final two weeks of the process. We have been calling on the RPA to open up the centres as soon as possible during April to avoid further delays to the already slow claim process.”