The Rural Payments Agency’s (RPA) Independent Agricultural Appeals Panels will continue to operate, Farming Minister Jim Paice announced today, after a review found they were a valued service for the farming industry.
The body makes recommendations to Ministers on appeals against the RPA’s decisions on Common Agricultural Policy payment claims. As part of the wider Government programme to review public bodies, Defra began a review of it in December.
Following an informal consultation with industry, the review found that farmers liked having their appeals heard by panel members with practical experience of agriculture and considered them the most effective way of providing impartial advice to Ministers.
Mr Paice, who is also Chair of the RPA Oversight Board, said:
“This Government is doing all it can to free up farming from unnecessary bureaucracy, but it’s really important we keep the Government services that farmers tell us they value.
“Farmers clearly appreciate having their payment appeals heard by independent panel members who understand the issues they face. That’s why we’ll be keeping the appeals panels running, while making some changes to the way they operate to ensure they provide the best possible customer service and value for money.”
As part of a five year plan, announced earlier this year and designed to create a more efficient and effective Rural Payments Agency, the RPA is already working on improvements to the way it interacts with its customers including an overhaul of the correspondence management system and development of better processes and supporting IT for complaints and appeals.
The RPA and Defra will now work on addressing the recommendations in the report.
Mark Grimshaw, Chief Executive Officer of the RPA, said:
“Good customer service is at the heart of everything we are doing at the Agency to improve the support we give to farmers and help them to be more competitive.
“We welcome the findings of this review which endorses work we have already begun to ensure we deal with complaints and appeals more effectively.”