RPA "not well run" is conclusion of independent report

The Rural Payments Agency, which delivers £2.3 billion of Common Agricultural Policy payments to farmers and growers each year, is not in a fit state to take on the 2013 CAP reforms.

This is the cutting conclusion of an independent review of the organisation, published this week, which described the RPA as "not well run" and "not fit to take on and succeed with any initiatives for 2013, without significant changes."

However, it added that there’s no point scrapping the agency, among whose tasks include delivering producer organisation payments to growers, and starting again as all it needs is a strategy to bring it up to the level standard required of a public sector organisation.

The review’s key findings are that:

·        the Rural Payments Agency’s finance functions and controls need to be strengthened;

·         there are significant opportunities to provide a better quality of customer service and deliver efficiencies through improvements in the operational processes;

·         that a significant opportunity exists in developing new IT systems for post 2013; and

·         there’s been a lack of appropriate governance and oversight from within RPA leadership and Defra.

The ball for an RPA improvement plan is now rolling and agriculture minister Jim Paice has pledged to lead it personally by chairing RPA’s Oversight Board.

NFU president Peter Kendall said: "The NFU hopes that its publication and the Government response marks the beginning of getting the RPA to a place where it can hold its head high as an effective and cost-efficient organisation. Absolutely crucial to this, however, is Defra taking responsibility for the agency and ensuring that an effective action plan is drawn up and, more importantly, kept to."


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