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Agriculture: Subsidies

Volume 490: debated on Thursday 26 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what targets his Department has set in relation to the time taken for processing applications for funding under those components of the Rural Development Programme England which are administered by regional development agencies. (264216)

Details of Rural Development Programme for England processing targets are being discussed with Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) as part of a review of existing service level agreements between DEFRA, RDAs and the Rural Payments Agency.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how much funding he expects to be allocated in grants made under the Rural Development Programme England in 2009. (264217)

DEFRA manages its finances on a financial year basis (1 April to 31 March). DEFRA expects to spend £417 million on grants under the Rural Development Programme for England in 2008-09. We are currently budgeting to spend £550 million under the programme in 2009-10.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if he will bring forward proposals to simplify the application process for allocation of funds under the Rural Development Programme England. (264218)

The Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) is still at a relatively early stage of implementation and we are keeping all processes under review with delivery bodies. The general approach to applications is designed to meet the requirements of EU and national regulations and, where appropriate, tailored to meet regional needs. Natural England is currently reviewing the way it allocates funds to applicants to environmental stewardship as part of a scheme efficiencies project. Application processes will be formally considered as part of the RDPE mid-term evaluation.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what recent assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of the mechanisms by which grants are awarded to applicants under Axis 1 and Axis 3 of the Rural Development Programme England. (264219)

DEFRA officials meet regularly with the Regional Development Agencies which are responsible for awarding grants under Axis 1 and Axis 3 of the Rural Development Programme for England where the effectiveness of their delivery mechanisms are reviewed.