In my statement of 11 January 2012, Official Report, column 16 WS, I explained that the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) had met its first performance indicator for the 2011 Single Payment Scheme (SPS.) The Agency’s second performance indicator for the scheme was to pay 95% of both the number of eligible claimants and of the total estimated fund value by the end of March. I can now confirm to the House that these figures have been reached over three weeks ahead of schedule and significantly earlier than has been achieved in any previous year.
As at 5 March, RPA had made SPS 2011 payments totalling £1.651 billion (95.4%) to 100,605 eligible claimants (96%). The Agency will be making contact shortly with claimants who are not due a payment, for example because they no longer have entitlements. For the remaining 3,500 or so farmers, the focus continues to be on validating claims and making related payments as soon as possible. Where that has not been possible by the end of March, RPA will contact those affected to explain the position on their claim, including any corrective work and payment adjustments related to previous scheme years. That work is important to ensure legacy issues are addressed and so help provide the platform for further improvements in payment performance for the 2012 scheme.