Payment phone line down for almost a month

Peter Chapman MSP
Peter Chapman MSP

A north-east MSP has appealed to the Rural Economy Secretary after it emerged a phone line to help farmers navigate government payments has been down for almost a month.

Peter Chapman has said that calls are being diverted from the Rural Payment and Inspection Division (RPID) office telephone line at Thainstone, Inverurie, to Elgin.

This has led to delays while calls are then transferred back to Inverurie or problems for farmers getting through at all as the lines are too busy.

Mr Chapman was contacted by a constituent in Aberdeenshire who has expressed his frustration at the problem.

It is understood that the fault relates to a fallen phone line near Thainstone.

The rural payment offices provide information to farmers about application forms that need to be filled in for grants and payments to meet strict deadlines.

Peter Chapman, Scottish Conservative MSP for the north-east region, said: “I was contacted by a farmer constituent of mine who has raised concerns about this problem, which has been going on for nearly a month.

“This is causing problems both for local farmers and for the Elgin office, which I gather is being inundated with calls.

“Farmers are being kept waiting for long periods of time to be connected, while staff in Elgin do not know if those in Inverurie are present to deal with the call.

“It is important that people can reach their local office as quickly as possible, as very often application forms are subject to strict deadlines.

“I have written to the Rural Economy Secretary seeking some information on when this issue will be resolved and also some assurance that the Scottish Government is making sure the Thainstone office can accept local calls.”