The Office of the Ombudsman Annual Report 2017 highlights a case involving a farmer who was refused a grant after he failed to tick an online box.
The man in question complained to the Ombudsman when a penalty was imposed by the Department of Food, Agriculture and the Marine (DAFM) on his Basic Payment application in April-2016.
According to the report, the farmer did not tick the compliance box under the ‘Ecological Focus Area’ on his online application, while 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.”
An examination led by the Ombudsman asked the DAFM to review the application and this is when the Department discovered that the BPS applicant had not registered for the ‘business notification text’ or email alerts on the system; this would have alerted the farmer to revisit the Department’s online system and search for the error.
“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 and the man received €2,863 and has now completed the Department’s ‘business notification’ form which authorises permission to utilise his contact details for future notifications.