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Common Agricultural Policy: Single Farm Payment

Volume 707: debated on Tuesday 27 January 2009

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether farmers allegedly overpaid the single farm payment in 2005 and 2006 have been given 30 working days in which to arrange repayment; and, if not, whether the 30 days allocated included the Christmas and New Year bank holidays. [HL565]

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether all the farmers allegedly overpaid the single farm payment in 2005 and 2006 have been notified of the requirement to repay; and, if not, when the overpayment calculations will be complete. [HL566]

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether all farmers notified of a requirement to repay alleged overpayments of the single farm payment in 2005 and 2006 have also been notified of the correct procedure for appealing against the demand. [HL567]

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether any farmers notified of a requirement to repay alleged overpayments of the single farm payment in 2005 and 2006 had previously been assured that the payments made to them were correct. [HL568]

While every single payment scheme (SPS) claim undergoes a series of validation checks, changes or new information can come to light, either notified by the farmer or identified by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA). In these cases RPA has an obligation to ensure that the correct money is paid. This means that a claim that was deemed to be complete and correct at a point in time can change and result in underpayments and overpayments to previous scheme year claims. Any future changes of information could result in new cases of overpayments being identified.

Customers who received a partial payment for SPS 2005 and 2006—an action taken to ensure that farmers received payments as quickly as possible—were sent a letter advising them that, if the partial payment was greater than the final payment due, they would be obliged to repay the difference.

Farmers who have been written to recently about overpayments for the SPS have been asked to arrange repayment or agree a repayment plan within one month of the date on their invoice, not 30 working days. Where the notification was sent out in early December, this period would include the Christmas and New Year bank holidays.

All farmers who applied for the SPS in 2005 and 2006 were provided with a scheme handbook giving details of the procedure for appealing if they were unhappy with any decision taken by RPA.