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Press release


5 March 2010


The Parliamentary Ombudsman, Ann Abraham, has welcomed Defra’s confirmation today that it will implement the recommendations of her recent Cold Comfort report and pay compensation to the farmers who complained to her about maladministration of the Single Payments Scheme by the Rural Payments Agency.

Defra refused to accept the report’s findings in full and the Chairman of the Public Administration Select Committee, Dr Tony Wright MP, wrote to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Hilary Benn MP, asking him to reconsider Defra’s response personally. In his reply, Mr Benn has confirmed Defra’s acceptance of all of the report’s recommendations.

Ms Abraham said: “Cold Comfort demonstrates how, supported by Parliament, the Ombudsman system secures remedy for citizens who have suffered injustice as a result of poor administration by the state. The two farmers featured in my report should now receive full compensation without further delay and my Office will work with Defra to agree appropriate remedy for the other farmers who complained to me.”


Notes for Editors
1. In 2005 the Single Payment Scheme based on land area replaced the previous production-based system of farm subsidy within the European Union. Farmers in England receive about £1.6 billion a year under the Scheme.

2. The National Audit Office has issued three reports on the Single Payment Scheme in October 2006, December 2007 and October 2009. The first report by the National Audit Office on the Single Payment Scheme (October 2006) included research that revealed, among other things, that delayed payments had been a source of increased stress for 20% of the farmers surveyed.

3. The management of the Single Payments Scheme was reviewed by the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee and the House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts.

4. Ann Abraham holds the post of UK Parliamentary Ombudsman and is also Health Service Ombudsman for England. She is appointed by the Crown and is completely independent of Government and the NHS. Her role is to provide a service to the public by undertaking independent investigations into complaints that government departments, a range of other public bodies in the UK, and the NHS in England, have not acted properly or fairly or have provided a poor service. There is no charge for using the Ombudsman’s services.

5. The Ombudsman welcomes the Public Administration Select Committee’s (PASC) December 2009 report Parliament and the Ombudsman. In their report PASC draw
attention to the constitutional issues when the Ombudsman takes the exceptional step of issuing a report indicating that the Government is failing to take steps to remedy injustice she has found it has caused.

6. For other media enquiries please contact the PHSO Press Office on 0300 061 4996.


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Date created: 9 February 2010

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