Support centres open to ease payments pain

FIVE SUPPORT centres have been set up in Yorkshire by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) to provide help with new payment applications.

Farmers can now seek help from local support centres as they negotiate the application process for Basic Payments.

The government’s digital-by-default approach to making Basic Payment Scheme applications was dropped last month after the RPA’s online interface encountered performance problems.

Since the RPA has started sending partially pre-populated application forms to eligible farmers. Now, if farmers encounter issues as they complete the paper forms, they can drop into support centres which have opened across the region: in Beverley, Leeds, Skipton, Thirsk and York.

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Completed forms and supporting documents can also be handed in at the centres, where a basic form checking service will be available.

The RPA’s customer director Justin Chamberlain said: “No farmer should be more than 30 miles from a support centre and we also have mobile support units to bring the service to areas where it is needed most.

“I would advise farmers to get their claim started as early possible so that they have plenty of time to access any support they may need.”

Support centres are open 9am-5pm, Tuesdays and Wednesdays at the Environment Agency offices in Crosskill House, Mill Lane, Beverley and at Lateral, City Walk, Leeds.

Two other centres are open 9am-5pm, Tuesdays and Thursdays at the RPA office in Foundry House, Carleton Road, Skipton and at the APHA office, West House, Station Road, Thirsk. Another centre at the RPA office in Foss House, Kings Pool, Peasholme Green, York is open Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm.

The Rural Payments helpline is 03000 200 301.