Country & Legal: Cap alert!

12 Dec 2014

This article was published in Blackmore Vale Magazine on 30 November 2014.

All the information from the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) and useful clarification provided by land agents has resulted in interested parties coming frighteningly close to becoming Cap Reform “boffins”.

One particular point is now ringing alarm bells: the digital payment scheme, or obligation to “register” online prior to making a first BPS claim by 15th May 2015. Invitations to do so should have been sent to the RPA’s 100,000 customers in October but delays have been caused by glitches in the system.

You may have read articles about “Verify” – the government’s drive to get everyone to input all their data onto an online database (uh-oh), which can then be used by certified companies and support services like HMRC and DEFRA to verify your identity when trying to access any Government service safely. Once you have verified your identity, it is apparently fast and simple to use, every time you need to access a government service online.

Well, as luck would have it, the RPA is the guinea pig, as Cap Reform has come at just the right time to test the system and make farmers tear their hair out in the process. The essential elements are as follows:

All farmers are to register (even those with no online accessibility, for whom ‘support centres’ are being provided).

ID checks are carried out through Experian (the sole provider at present, although The Post Office and others are to follow).

User names are issued which are then used by claimants when dealing with their unique RPA account.

The RPA may be forced to back-track on the requirement for digitalisation of the system prior to the 2015 claim deadline. However, this is not yet confirmed and you are advised to monitor developments. What a surprise – another detail to be ironed out, with only a few weeks to go until change over…