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Agriculture: Subsidies

Volume 502: debated on Monday 7 December 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the average level of fine charged was for late payments in respect of the 2005 Single Payment Scheme; and what estimate he has made of the outstanding amount due relating to payments under the (a) 2005 and (b) 2006 schemes. (303424)

Financial penalties are applied by the European Commission if member states fail to make 96.154 per cent. of payments, by value, under the Single Payment Scheme (SPS) by 30 June of the year following each scheme year. To date, such penalties, totalling some £64 million, have only been applied to the UK in respect of the 2005 SPS.

The SPS payments still due are estimated at £9,628 for the 2005 SPS scheme year and £6,440 for the 2006 scheme year. Most of the nine outstanding claims are cases where probate issues still need to be resolved. Some additional sums may become due as a result of changes to claim values following, for example, appeals by farmers.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many claims of under (a) £300 and (b) £500 have been made under the Single Payment Scheme in 2009. (303612)

In England, for the 2009 Single Payment Scheme, the Rural Payments Agency received 3,748 claims for less than £300 and 4,223 claims for between £300 and £499.99. These reflect the value claimed; the value paid may differ.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the average time taken to process a claim made under the Single Payment Scheme was in each of the last five years. (303621)

Based on the information contained within the NAO Value for Money Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General, HC 880 Session 2008-09, published on 15 October 2009 and titled “A Second Progress Update on the Administration of the Single Payment Scheme by the Rural Payments Agency”, the average staff time taken to process single payment scheme (SPS) claims in England for each year is set out as follows:

SPS scheme year

2005

2006

2007

2008

Number of claimants

116,474

109,100

106,700

106,500

Number of staff

3,077

2,993

2,879

2,527

Average time per claim (hours)

43.00

44.66

43.93

38.62

The number of staff shown includes staff employed in shared service and corporate service roles, indirectly supporting processing, as well as those employed directly in processing.

Figures are not yet available for processing 2009 scheme claims.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many cheques under the Single Payment Scheme have been issued by the Rural Payments Agency for less than (a) £60, (b) £40, (c) £20, (d) £10 and (e) £1 in each year since 2001. (303623)

The number of Single Payment Scheme (SPS) cheque payments issued by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) for the bands and scheme years specified in the question are as follows:

Number of payments

Band

SPS 2005

SPS 2006

SPS 2007

SPS 20081

£40.01 to £60.00

4,356

2,417

807

299

£20.01 to £40.00

4,920

1,861

492

122

£10.01 to £20.00

1,812

546

69

14

£1.01 to £10.00

639

80

14

3

£0.01 to £1.00

58

2

6

3

1 A change in EU regulations meant that the RPA stopped making payments by cheque on 15 October 2008. All payments are now made via BACS.

Payments for the 2009 SPS scheme year only began on 1 December so we cannot provide equivalent figures at this stage.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what assessment he has made of the accuracy of the digitalised farm maps used by the Rural Payments Agency for the purpose of making payments under the Single Payment Scheme. (303628)

For Single Payment Scheme claims up to and including the 2009 scheme year, the Rural Payments Agency has been using existing Ordnance Survey base-data information on Rural Land Register (RLR) maps.

The mapping update currently in progress uses the most recent Ordnance Survey data available in conjunction with aerial photography to update the RLR maps. This includes improving the positional accuracy of our map data and reflecting any real world change recorded by Ordnance Survey.