15 May 2007 - Ref 28/07
In my written statement of 22 February (col.59WS) I promised to keep the House informed of progress with the Single Payment Scheme (SPS).
As at 11 May, a total of over £1.2 billion, representing around 80% of the estimated total fund for SPS 2006, had been paid in either full or partial payments to 100,599 (92%) claimants. About 8,500 claimants have yet to receive a payment, the majority of which have claims under 1000 Euro. The remaining claims include many of the more complex cases.
In reviewing prospects over the remaining period to 30 June, I have been guided by the aims I set in my statement of 7 November (col. 715), namely:
“First, we want to maximise payments to farmers that arrive on a timely and predictable basis. That means making full payments where possible and partial payments where necessary. Second, we want to minimise the risk of late payment penalties and disallowance. Third, we want our decisions this year to help the RPA establish a new and sound footing for the delivery of SPS in the future.”
Against that background, I have confirmed with the RPA Chief Executive that, while it remains very challenging, the Agency should remain focused on achieving the existing target of making 96.14% of payments by 30 June and continue to prioritise activity in respect of claimants who find themselves in difficult circumstances. I have also discussed with him additional steps that can be taken to help achieve this.
I reported in my statement of 22 February that some 25,000 cases from 2005 have been identified for review. With new ones identified as others are dealt with, that number now stands at 22,000. Outstanding work to review entitlement values for all these claims will now be undertaken separately from the process of making payments under the 2006 scheme. Any corrections to SPS 2005 and 2006 payments will follow as necessary. The RPA Chief Executive is taking a number of other steps to further streamline processing of claims.
In the meantime SPS 2007 application packs were dispatched ahead of RPA’s internal target and completed forms have been received at a steady rate ahead of today’s deadline. The first stages of processing have also begun. Alongside that work, adjustments to the underlying entitlement data will continue as part of the recovery actions required to provide a more predictable payment timetable for 2007 and to stabilise the service provided by the Agency for the 2008 Scheme year.
I am very aware of the impact on individual farmers of the payment timetable and the service levels the RPA currently offers in respect of the SPS. I remain committed to ensuring continued improvements in these areas. My noble friend Lord Rooker and I will continue to liaise with representatives of both the main farming bodies and the banks to ensure a common understanding of progress and issues that arise.
Regular updates on payment progress will continue to be published on the RPA website, including updates on estimated total claimant numbers and total Fund values. I will also continue to keep the House informed as necessary.
Page published: 15 May 2007