We have recently become aware of an announcement in October 2017 by the Rural Payments Agency regarding Active Farmers Accountant Certificates. This concerns farmers who are in receipt of payments from the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) 2017 and follows a European Union audit requiring the Rural Payments Agency to check the active farmer status of some farmers.
If you receive a request from the Rural Payments Agency for one of these certificates you will be required to enter into a tripartite engagement with the Rural Payments Agency and your accountant. The certificate must be signed by a professionally qualified accountant and must not be an employee of the business or a director of a limited company.
The Rural Payments Agency has published guidance and a list of procedures which your accountant will need to follow in order for them to sign the certificate before submission to the Rural Payments Agency.
The notices indicate that there is a 10 day deadline for submission of the certificate from receipt of the notice. We are aware that ICAEW are currently in discussions with the Rural Payments Agency with regards to this and are advising its members that such a deadline is not a legal/regulatory deadline. It is not enforceable and there is no penalty if farmers do not meet this deadline. However, we would encourage anyone receiving a request for such a certificate to act promptly.
We will continue to monitor developments in respect of this issue and are happy to assist you if you do receive such a request.