Farm Ireland

Wednesday 7 December 2016

'If the dole was held up like this there would be war'

Published 26/11/2016 | 06:30

"It's not fair to me that I have to go to bed tonight knowing that Revenue is due to be paid tomorrow and I don't have the money to pay them."

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That was the reaction of Joe (not his real name) recently when he found out that his Basic Payment application had not been cleared for payment.

Thousands of farmers have been waiting for their Basic Payment and ANC monies since the middle of October.

However, behind the competing stats and PR battles around the number of applicants paid and unpaid are real life stories like Joe's.

"The Basic Payment keeps me in the black for the period necessary for the bank overdraft, it pays the taxman and settles a lot of the small bills," he explained.

Joe has had payments delayed twice before through no fault of his own. This year it seemed like everything was OK for payment until he rang the Department in the first half of October and was informed that he had been selected for a satellite inspection.

Since then he's been on a merry-go-round, ringing the Department every single week.

"It's been an extremely frustrating few weeks. You ring up the Department [of Agriculture] and the lady says you're application has not come through yet and to ring back next week.

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"In the beginning I used to ask them when it would be processed, but they didn't know. They couldn't tell me anything.

"I used to get really annoyed with the staff but what's the point. It's an outside company that's doing these inspections and the Department staff only get the list of approved applications each week. They don't know when any particular application will be cleared.

"But I'd like to ask the person who decided to schedule the inspections for September how he or she would like to have their salary held up for six weeks?I'd like to see how they would deal with the stress of not being able to pay the taxman or the bills," said Joe.

"If the dole was held up like this there would be war. But it's OK to delay payments to farmers every year. I never had a chance of my payment being cleared by October 17. If I hadn't rang on October 10 I'd never have known that there was going to be a delay.

"My application went in digitally in April; why weren't the satellite inspections done in July or August? Is anybody answerable for this?

"This doesn't seem fair to me. I depend on this money to pay everybody and live off the overdraft.I have no problem being assessed, but don't delay my payments because of it.

"I try to be nice, but you get sick of being told to ring back next week.

"The lady [in the Department] asked me if I knew a TD a while back. The clear implication was that TDs have more influence than the farmers whose payments are delayed. This is not fair. I'm stressed enough, I don't need more stress. My wife doesn't need more stress."

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