The House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee has published its report on Defra’s performance for 2013-14, in which it criticises a number of aspects of the department’s work.
As well as commenting on the low levels of flood defence funding currently attracted from private sources, and calling for faster research on bovine TB, the Committee criticised the way in which the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) had worked historically with regard to payments under the Common Agricultural Policy. This has seen the Defra fined a total of £580 million since the 2005 CAP was introduced.
Committee Chair, Anne McIntosh MP commented, ““Ensuring accurate CAP payments to farmers must be a priority for the Secretary of State. We have criticised the Department and Rural Payments Agency for the high levels of disallowance penalties incurred under the 2005 CAP and it is worrying that there is still a significant risk of further penalties being incurred. It is absolutely vital that Defra and the RPA use lessons learnt to minimise disallowance risks in future.” MPs also expressed concerns about low staff morale and future budget savings.