T7. Mr Dunne asked the Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs for some information in relation to the basic payment scheme, better known as the single farm payment scheme, and, given that a lot of her officials have been caught up in dealing with appeals, for an assessment of the overall progress of the appeals process. (AQT 602/16-21)
I thank the Member for his question. Obviously the introduction of CAP reform area-based schemes has led to an unprecedented increase in the number of review-of-decision applications received by my Department. Review of decisions is an important part of the decision-making process that provides farmers and farm businesses with the opportunity to seek reconsideration where they believe that the Department did not reach the correct decision in respect of an area-based payment. Whilst the current process has been meeting objectives, I am nevertheless concerned about the time taken to issue final decisions. I have therefore asked my officials to review our current provision and put in place a process that better meets the needs of farmers for the 2017 scheme year going forward. This work will be taken forward in consultation with our stakeholders over the coming months. However, my immediate priority is to address the timelines of final decisions for those who are already awaiting reviews arising from the introduction of CAP reform area-based schemes. Therefore, my officials will shortly engage with stakeholders to determine a means by which review of decisions can be streamlined and made more efficient.