Farmers left in limbo by 'unacceptable' appeals delay
Hundreds of Welsh farmers are being left in limbo for years waiting for payments due to "unacceptable" delays in the Welsh Government's appeals system.
The delays in processing the appeals mean that there are 313 outstanding appeals in the Rural Payments Wales system. This is made up of 174 Stage 1 appeals and 139 Stage 2 appeals. These include cases dating as far back as 2016 that are still waiting to be resolved.
The Minister shared the figures in response to Senedd questions from Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru's shadow rural affairs minister, who said the long delay facing some farmers due to the appeals system was inexcusable.
Mr Gruffydd said: "These shocking figures suggest that the current appeals system isn’t fit for purpose. How can it be that so many of these appeals, sometimes relating to quite minor issues, are taking years to resolve? Why does the Minister believe that an average timescale of 576 days for dealing with a Stage 2 appeal from submission to final decision is in any way acceptable? That's 19 months where farmers and their families are left in limbo. This not only leaves many of these businesses unable to plan ahead but it also takes its toll on people’s mental health.
“Only 10 Independent Appeals Panel hearings were convened throughout the whole of last year despite there being more than 100 stage 2 appeals needing to be dealt with. The Minister should be embarrassed by these figures.”
Mr Gruffydd added that the delays also meant appeals became more difficult as memories and recollections faded. He said: "“On the one hand farmers wishing to appeal are given 60 days to do so, then on the other authorities are taking an average of over a year and a half to process those appeals. That isn’t fair and it’s time it changed. The current appeals system is too slow and too cumbersome. I'm calling on the minister to ensure that long-outstanding cases are concluded more swiftly. Until that happens the farmers affected can’t move on and are left with a shadow hanging over them.
"Many of these appeals stem from issues involving Glastir agri-environment schemes. The Welsh Government's ‘Sustainable Farming and our Land’ proposals could mean up to 20,000 Glastir-type contracts in years to come. If the system is struggling so badly to deal with the current numbers of appeals then I dread to think how dysfunctional it might become in future.”