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Saturday 17 November 2018

Man refused agriculture grant after failing to tick online box

Stock image. Photo: Brian Joyce
Stock image. Photo: Brian Joyce
Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

The Ombudsman received over 3,000 complaints about public services including Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, including one where a man complained to the Ombudsman when the Department of Agriculture imposed a penalty on his application for a Basic Payment in April 2016.

He had not ticked the compliance box under the ‘Ecological Focus Area’ on his online application.

This resulted in a non-compliance penalty of €2,937. His appeal of the decision was refused as the Department said he had been notified of the error on its online system and he could have rectified the mistake.

After the Ombudsman asked the Department to review the application the Department discovered that the man had not been registered for the ‘business notification text’ or email alerts on the system.

The ‘business notification’ would have alerted the man to revisit the Department’s online system and check for the error.

Outcome

The complaint was upheld because the man was not registered for ‘business notification texts’ or emails. The Department agreed to waive the penalty of €2,937 and pay the man the remainder of his Basic Payment.

A standard deduction of €74 was made under the EU Financial Crisis Reserve scheme so the man received €2,863. The man has now completed the Department’s ‘business notification’ form which gives it permission to use his contact details for future notifications.

Ombudsman Peter Tyndall received 3,021 complaints about providers of public services last year.  The Ombudsman’s annual report for 2017 was published this week and shows that the sectors that were the most complained about in 2017 were:

  • Government Departments/Offices 953 complaints 
  • Local Authorities 852 complaints
  • Health and social care sector 608 complaints

The Ombudsman received 87 complaints about the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine including complaints about the Agri-Environment Options Scheme, Basic Payments scheme and the REPS scheme.

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