Rural Payments Agency U-turn on digital payment system for farmers

Farming body Rural Payments Agency shelves £154m IT payments system due to performance problems  

Ivan Rogers PA

By Sarah.Aston

20 Mar 2015

The £154m IT system used by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) to process EU subsidy payments has been put on hold after technical problems caused delays to claims processes. 
The digital Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), which was introduced in January 2015, will be shelved from Monday 23 March, after farmers complained that the system did not work. 
Instead the online system will be replaced by paper forms, and the RPA will input this data into the system themselves. According to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), forms will be available to download from the RPA's website on Monday morning. 

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RPA chief executive Mark Grimshaw said he was confident that farmers will now be able to process their claims efficiently and apologised for the system failure. 
“We know that there is quite a lot of confusion around the rules for the new service, and our original intention was to use the customer portal to simplify the approach,” he told the BBC’s Farming Today. 
“It’s the customer portal's link to the core rural payments system that has created many of the difficulties, and I think we have now taken the right decision for our customers to allow them to use a familiar paper-based approach to getting their 2015 applications in on time.”
Farmers will still need to register online to make a claim, and farmers and their agents can get help from any of the 50 drop-in centres across the country.
The deadline for claims has been extended to 15 June.  


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