UK govt scraps payments system for farmers due to performance problems

UK govt scraps payments system for farmers due to performance problems

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Defra, is enduring a series of embarrassing headlines after its £154 million system to process farmers' EU subsidy payments has been largely abandoned following a number of problems with its online interface.

The system will be re-launched next week with farmers being asked to submit Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) claims on paper forms. The data will then be inputted manually onto the system, though the government is asking farmers to register for the online service before submitting their claims manually. 

As the deadline for making BPS claims approaches, the European Commission has extended the due date by one month.  

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Farming Today programme, Mark Grimshaw, chief executive of Defra's Rural Payments Agency (RPA), said the decision had been made "having listened intently" to farmers. Farmers Weekly reported that "farmers, landowners and agents in England were 'very concerned' about the slowness and complexity of the online BPS mapping tool."

As of Thursday, 74,000 farm businesses in England had registered for the service – equivalent to 84% of eligible businesses. The RPA is trying to reach the 12,000 – 14,000 businesses that have not yet registered, according to Farmers Weekly. 

Comments: (4)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 23 March, 2015, 12:17Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Is there a case here for "knowing the customer" before implementing a solution? Implementing an online only solution for a process to users who may not all have broadband services sounds like a risky strategy.

Tom Hay
Tom Hay - Icon Solutions Ltd - London 23 March, 2015, 13:421 like 1 like

The Register puts a different spin on the story, claiming that the main issue was a problem with the new digital front-end failing to integrate with multiple back-end systems, that the Government Digital Service went for a 40-plus suppliers approach - focusing too much attention on the front end, and little attention to integration between front and back end systems, and that the question remains as to whether the back end of the system is robust enough to handle the paper deluge. This should be a warning to financial institutions who are pouring money into digital front ends at the expense of their creaking back office systems.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 23 March, 2015, 14:12Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Hard for many of us to comment in the normal authoritative way, given the lack of airtime given to this issue on "The Archers".

Robert Bradfield
Robert Bradfield - RHB Management Consulting Ltd - London 24 March, 2015, 15:29Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Look on the bright side, this is only a small write off compares to the cost of the SPS! Just a shame that these large and very complex IT infrastructure projects suffer from such poor supplier and stakeholder management. Having filled out the forms, been inundated with physical documentation and generally been totally confused by the whole process I am not surprised this has failed. And Mark, Tom you are so right - we have no mobile signal and broadband is laughable (but I pay the same as people getting 20 tims better service)!

Trending