Single Farm Payments

Part of Agriculture and Rural Development – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:15 pm on 15 March 2011.

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Photo of Michelle Gildernew Michelle Gildernew Sinn Féin 2:15, 15 March 2011

As of 10 March 2011, my Department had finalised 94·7% of 2010 claims and paid out over £250 million to farmers. That means that 36,150 claims have been paid and that 1,915 claims have not yet been finalised. There are a variety of reasons for that, including queries on the claim that need to be completed, the processing of on-farm inspection reports, challenges by others of the right to claim the land and the need to await probate. It should be noted that, because of the application of penalties under scheme rules, not all remaining claims will necessarily be due a payment.

We have met our 2010 published targets, but I appreciate the difficulties that are experienced by many of those claimants who have not yet been paid. Although my Department is working to clear those cases, they tend to be more complex and, by necessity, take longer to work through. In recognition of that, I have arranged for additional staff to move to the single farm payment branch to accelerate the payment of the remaining claims.

Looking ahead, I hope that the remapping exercise will reduce many of the errors that are currently being found in on-farm inspections. That exercise will speed up the inspection process. Over and above that, I have asked officials to begin the process of a review of the entire inspection and payment procedure to see how it can be improved.