The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has blamed technical issues for some farm advisers being locked out of their clients’ accounts on the online Rural Payments service.
The RPA announced on Friday that it had sent out reminders asking people to “reconfirm” their personal and business details if they have not signed into the online service in the previous 365 days.
However, Mike Cluley, director with adviser Carver Knowles, said that when he logged in on Thursday (24 February) he found he had been locked out of many clients’ accounts as a result.
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“All account owners who have logged in during the past 12 months are fine and where agents have full permissions, they can click in and update on behalf of clients,” he said.
“However, where agents only have the more basic permissions, the account owner has to log in themselves to update the system before the agents can be let back in. Right now, I have about 120 to 130 accounts I can’t immediately access.”
Mr Cluley said a similar checking exercise was carried out last year, but it was not to the extent that agents got locked out of the system.
“If they had done this in August and given us some warning, at least we would have had the back end of the year to sort it out. But doing it while the schemes are open is absolutely bonkers.
“Countryside Stewardship applications are now open, but until we get this sorted I can’t download any maps or look at field data. Meanwhile, BPS applications open in a couple of weeks,” he said.
“At this time of year, quite frankly we don’t have the time for this. I’m busy enough as it is trying to fill out forms, never mind getting the access to fill out said form.”
The NFU said it looked like the RPA may have “turned up the dial” on security checks introduced last year and it was in touch with officials about the unintended consequences.
The RPA said it was aware of technical issues affecting a small number of agents because of the introduction of new security measures last year and was working to resolve this as soon as possible.
An applicant’s Rural Payments account and/or business records will show a message asking them to check if their personal/business contact information is still correct.
There is an option to choose “yes” and an option to update any details. This will only show up for people who have not signed into the service and made any changes to their personal or business details in the previous 365 days.