MP Ritchie Concerned at Farm Modernisation Scheme Claim Refusals
SOUTH Down MP Margaret Ritchie has expressed her concern at refusals over farm modernisation claims.
She said: “In the past number of days I have been made aware of cases from my constituents where, as a result of a Department official’s interpretation of the intended use of farm equipment, or in some cases the dimensions of the equipment purchased by the farmer under the Farm Modernisation Scheme, entire clams have been refused. In some cases this is for thousands of pounds.
“In the cases I am aware of the individuals have purchased and paid for these items along with other equipment on the claim list and they now face the entire claim being disallowed, because of what I believe to be a lack of information and understanding on the Departments side. On each occasion the farmers have followed the instructions from the Farm Modernisation manual and application book.
“I would urge anyone in a similar situation to make their appeal directly to the Department. Further to this, I would urge that the Department review how the processing of these claims is being handled. It would appear that the Department is placing requirements on the claim that were not previously envisaged as outlined in their manual for the scheme.
“Having looked at the cases that have been brought to my attention they share a common theme. The Department appear to be undertaking an overly beuaracratic assessment in the absence of information on the type and nature of the equipment they are refusing payment on. Farm businesses must be allowed to thrive and develop and must not be sacrificed on the altar of beuaracratic rules.”