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Rural Payments Agency needs public targets for prompt payments, says NFU

NFU deputy president Guy Smith said the Rural Payment Agency’s current lack of targets was stunting member confidence. 

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RPA needs public targets for prompt payments, says NFU

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has been told it needs to publish public targets to show how it plans to make quick and accurate 2019 payments.

 

NFU deputy president Guy Smith said the RPA’s current lack of targets was stunting member confidence, just as farmers were told payments would start hitting bank accounts as of December 2.

 

The union’s plea comes in the first year the RPA will deliver payments for all eligible Countryside Stewardship (CS) and Environmental Stewardship (ES) agreement holders in one instalment, rather than two.

 

Mr Smith said: “Given the current state of CS and ES and the challenges faced by the RPA, we really need to see 2019 annual claim payments being issued as soon as possible, with farmers already out of pocket having invested in enhancing their farmed environments as part of these schemes.”


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NFU vice-president Stuart Roberts agreed prompt payments were needed, particularly following the extreme weather events and their repercussions on farmers and growers.

 

‘Opportunistic crime’

It came as farmers and land owners were told to remain vigilant against fraud.

 

Experts said fraudsters are aware of when large payments are expected, and on average, fraud amounts to about £3.6 billion each year.

 

Tracey Jackson, associate and chartered surveyor at H&H Land and Estates, said: “Be on your guard, scams do happen and we know people it has happened to.

“It is an opportunistic crime – fraud is non-discriminatory and everyone is a target. Be clear who you are transferring money to and why before you enter into any financial transaction, and never transfer money to unknown sources.”

 

Telephone scamming has become a particular danger as fraudsters often imitate the bank on the phone’s caller ID.

 

Claimants are asked to remember that the bank, police or RPA will never ask you to reveal your online password, PIN or bank account details, or ask you to make a payment over the telephone.

 

If in doubt, call the organisation back, ideally on a different telephone and using a number you are familiar with or one known to be official.

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