MP Steve Barclay has praised much-needed reforms that have speeded up EU payments to farmers.
The MP used his position on an influential parliamentary committee to press for reforms to the system which was seeing payments delayed by up to seven weeks. This was causing severe cash flow problems for some farmers.
Significant improvements mean that 92% of payments have now been made, and December’s target should be met before Christmas.
It’s a welcome development for farmers in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire who are concerned that proposed changes to EU farming rules could see them face added running costs of £31m a year.
“Farmers are under enough pressure without having to fight EU red tape to receive the money they’re owed,” said Mr Barclay, who is a member of the Public Accounts Committee.
A National Audit Office report found payments from the Rural Payments Agency were being made almost two months late. What made the situation worse was that 12 per cent of payments contained an error.
Mr Barclay, MP for North East Cambridgeshire, tabled a question to the Environment Secretary Owen Paterson and says he was heartened by the response.
“At last the government admitted that the agency had been a real failure. Now it’s got a grip on this problem, and this is something to celebrate for farmers and rural communities alike,” Mr Barclay added.