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Government incompetence must not hurt Uttoxeter farmers

Thursday 22nd February 2007 (Andrew Griffiths)
Government incompetence must not hurt Uttoxeter farmers

Revelations that the Government could be fined up to £300 million because of failure to issue farming payments must not effect Uttoxeter farmers say Conservatives. UK taxpayers could face a £300m fine because of the government’s failure to pay European subsidies on time to farmers in England . The Rural Payments Agency, a government body, is charged with allocating about £1.5bn each year under the EU’s single farm payment scheme (SPS).Conservative Parliamentary spokesmen Andrew Griffiths said, “It is outrageous that some farmers have had to wait over a year for their money, but news that farming could lose out to the tune of £300m as a result of Government incompetence is unacceptable. Our farmers shouldn’t be worse off because Ministers aren’t doing their jobs properly. This scheme was supposed to make life easier for farmers, so why is it that every other country in Europe has got their payment out on time but not ours?” Mr Griffiths has written to the Environment Secretary David Miliband, asking for assurances that the fines will be paid by the Treasury, and not from money destined to help farmers. Mr Griffiths, who was the Conservative Party’s Advisor on Farming added, “The money from 2005’s allocation should have been paid in early 2006, but almost a quarter of farmers are still awaiting their money. I am sure if it was a Government Minister who had been waiting that long to be paid, something would have be done by now.” Meanwhile, Environment Secretary David Miliband told the Commons on Thursday that more than £900m of 2006’s allocation had now been paid to 77% of claimants.

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