Acorn Rural Property Consultants have recently won a Stage 2 appeal against the RPA resulting in a saving to their client of over £11,000, which the RPA were seeking to claw back as an overpayment.
The issue related to the RPA mistakenly making an overpayment for the 2005 scheme year due to the payment of a national reserve top-up sum that should not have been released until 2006. John Dawe-Lane of Acorn RPC reports that there was an ongoing lack of clarity on the part of the RPA for a period of at least four years concerning whether or not there was an overpayment, or an underpayment, and the amount involved. “Despite inconsistent advice from the RPA that made it impossible to confirm the true position, the RPA continued to argue that our client should have detected the overpayment and therefore was responsible to pay back the money. However, we were able to demonstrate at the appeal that our client acted entirely in good faith and had taken all reasonable steps to try and establish the true facts and the extent of any overpayment; the panel agreed with our client that the repayment obligation should not apply as the overpayment could not have reasonably been detected,” explains Dawe-Lane.
We are currently dealing with a number of on-going SPS problems for farmers, some of which go back to the introduction of the scheme in 2005, says Dawe-Lane, who points out that farmers who have been notified of an overpayment should check the details very carefully and not automatically assume the RPA are correct.