More farmers have received their single farm payment earlier than ever after the Rural Payments Agency smashed its target to get money out on time.
The Scottish government has also improved on the number of payments it made on the first banking day of the payment window.
In England more than 95,000 farmers were paid more than £1.38bn on Monday (3 December), which means that agency officials met their target for the entire month of December on the first day.
Farm minister David Heath said: “The good news is that in all the cases where the mapping is right and the application is right, we are not seeing the sort of delays we have had in previous years. People are being paid.”
The figures equate to 91.4% of all recipients have been paid 84.6% of the total value of the single payment due to farmers in England. The RPA’s targets were to pay 91% of customers and 84% by value by the end of December 2012.
There would always be a number of people where queries meant payments couldn’t be made straight away, said Mr Heath. The agency was now going back to those people and explaining what needed to be resolved so payment could be made.
“We reckon we will have 97% of payments made by the end of March – hopefully before then,” said Mr Heath. “But there will always be a number of difficult cases where we can’t agree because of discrepancies within the application.”
A spokeswoman for the Scottish government said that 14,200 farmers had been paid on Monday 3 December an increase of 4% on the figure for 2011. A total of £303m reached farmers’ bank accounts, 70% of those eligible to receive payments.
Updated figures for Wales and Northern Ireland are currently unavailable. But both the Welsh government and NI Assembly were confident of meeting targets. In Wales 15,000 farmers (91%) were due to receive payments totalling over £213m on 3 December.
NI targets were for 80% of the 37,600 farmers to receive full payment on 7 December.
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