My right honourable friend the Minister for Agriculture and Food (Jim Paice) has today made the following Statement.
In my Statement of 31 March (Hansard, col. 35-36WS) I outlined the measures the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) was taking to speed the flow of the remaining payments to farmers under the 2010 single payment scheme (SPS).
The introduction of those measures, including making manually validated payments in some circumstances, ensured that the RPA exceeded its revised payment profile in April. Some claimants who the agency had estimated could be paid in that month were not, often because they were linked to others through a complex web of entitlements transfers. Apart from a few exceptional cases, the RPA has either telephoned or written to all those affected to explain the position and will look to prioritise its payments where possible over the coming month. The agency kept above profile overall by managing to resolve issues preventing payments on some claims that had been estimated to be paid in May or June.
As of Friday 13 May, the total value of payments made to some 101,176 farmers had reached £1.63 billion (94.54 per cent). The number of eligible claimants left to pay at that point was estimated to be 3,177. The agency remains on course, therefore, to meet the EU benchmark to avoid late payment penalties, ie making 95.238 per cent of the total value of payments, by the end of this month. The RPA Oversight Board, which I chair, will continue to monitor progress to ensure that, wherever it is legally possible to do so, these remaining payments reach farmers by the end of the regulatory payment window on 30 June.