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Fury over RPA computer payments

[Monday 03 April 2006]

HUNDREDS of Yorkshire Dales farmers, still waiting for farm support payments due since last year, reacted with fury at the weekend when it was revealed that the man responsible for the IT chaos at the Rural Payments Agency is earning £40,000 a year more than the Prime Minister.

Farmers fury over RPA computer payments
Farmers fury over RPA computer payments

Throughout England, thousands of farmers are having to ask their bank managers to extend their overdrafts because promised cheques have not arrived. Worse still, the Inland Revenue is demanding income tax payments on cash that has never arrived.

Defra officials have blamed much of the chaos on failures in the RPA's multi-million-pound computer system but on Saturday it was revealed that the consultant brought in to run the system, Alan McDermott, has a salary of £225,500 a year. Tony Blair gets £184,000.

Defra has already sacked the former chief executive of the RPA and demands grew at the weekend that the farm minister Lord Bach should also go. But many farmers believe that the axe should really fall on Defra Secretary Margaret Beckett, who has been repeatedly accused of being more interested in politically correct issues like global warming than in the farming industry.

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