In the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on
In the meantime, the RPA oversight board, which I chair, has reviewed the existing indicator in the business plan for demonstrating that payments under the 2011 single payment scheme (SPS) are made in an accurate and cost-effective manner. In doing so, we have considered progress on both 2011 scheme processing and work to address legacy errors. In line with my earlier statements, the agency has been undertaking corrective action on the remaining known legacy data problems alongside the processing of 2011 SPS claims. I am pleased to say that that corrective work on the known error cases remains on track to be completed by the end of the payment window on
Against that background the oversight board has agreed the following additional indicators for 2011 SPS:
by the end of December 2011 to have paid a minimum of 86% of eligible claimants and 78% of the total estimated value; by the end of March 2012 to have paid a minimum of 95% of both the eligible claimants and the total estimated value.
These indicators reflect a change in the focus of the agency’s efforts towards processing the more difficult cases at an earlier stage, which is expected to increase the value of payments made at the beginning of the payment window while maintaining performance on the numbers of claimants paid in that period. Each individual indicator betters or matches performance under any previous scheme year while both reducing, rather than adding to, legacy problems and operating with a much-reduced budget. That represents a stride forward for the agency but, as I discussed with leaders of farming representative bodies last week, there remains some distance to go before I could be happy that farmers are receiving the service they deserve. I am clear that further strides towards that goal must be made in the indicators that are set for subsequent years and that communications with farmers who are not paid early in the window must be improved now. I know the RPA chief executive has heard the clear message from farm leaders on the latter point and will ensure steps are taken to address it over the coming months.
I will continue to keep the House informed on the agency’s progress.