New report says Government mistakes cost UK farmers £22.5 million. Ruffley asks: 'What was the cost to Suffolk?'

Thursday, 19 October, 2006

David Ruffley MP has reacted with dismay to a new National Audit Office (NAO) report, published yesterday, which states that delays in administering the single payment scheme cost UK farmers up to £22.5 million.

The NAO found that the costs related to additional interest and arrangement fees on loans.

The National Farmers Union has said that delays and poor performance in the implementation of the scheme has caused its members distress and anxiety.

The NAO concluded that the Government's Rural Payments Agency difficulties arose from:

• Underestimating the scale of work needed to implement the scheme

• Over optimistic progress reporting

• Overly complex governance structures

The NAO report provides no regional breakdown as to the cost to Suffolk farmers, therefore, David Ruffley has today tabled a House of Commons question to David Miliband, Secretary of State at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, asking:

'Further to the National Audit Office report 'Delays in Administering the 2005 Single Payment Scheme in England' what was the estimated cost of delays in administering the single payment to farmers in Suffolk?'

David said:

'This NAO report exposes what a complete shambles the Government has made of the single payment scheme.

'It is quite simply disgraceful that while the Rural Payment Agency's former Chief Executive remains on full pay of £114,000 per year, having been removed from the post in March, Government mistakes have cost hard working UK farmers up to £22.5 million.

'The NAO's report does not give us a picture of the cost to farmers in Suffolk and, therefore, I have today tabled a formal House of Commons question to the Secretary of State asking what estimate his department puts on the cost of their errors to farmers in our county.

'I await his response with interest and will continue to do all I can to make sure that this Government is held to account and does not allow bureaucratic errors of this magnitude to occur again.'