The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) says it is unable help landowners complete the Single Payment Scheme (SPS) application form, despite extending the opening hours of its telephone helpline for applicants’ enquiries.

“The RPA is unable to give business advice or help in completing the form page by page,” said a statement released last week. “Calls of this nature prevent applicants with specific questions getting through.”

From today, just six days remain until the deadline for registration (16 May). Last week, the RPA extended the opening hours for its telephone service
(tel: 0854 603 7777) from 7.30am-6pm during the week, and from 9am-5pm at weekends.

An RPA spokesman told Horse & Hound: “We cannot go through the form question by question. Bodies such as the National Farmers Union and Country Land and Business Association should help and we’ve issued comprehensive guidance booklets.

“If someone completes the form and isn’t happy about the way they’ve answered any of the questions, they should send an explanatory letter with the form.”

DEFRA introduced the SPS to replace most existing crop and livestock subsidies, and land grazed by horses will now qualify as long as certain criteria are met.

  • This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (5 May, 05)


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