The Rural Payments Agency has paid 100,599 farmers either a full or partial single farm payment for 2006, but it still has 22,000 claims from 2005 under review.

In a statement to Parliament on Tuesday (15 May), DEFRA secretary David Miliband said at 11 May a total of over £1.2 billion, representing around 80% of the estimated total fund for SPS 2006, had been paid out.

About 8,500 claimants have yet to receive a payment, the majority of which have claims under €1000. The remaining claims include many of the more complex cases.

Mr Miliband said: “Against that background, I have confirmed with the RPA Chief Executive that, while it remains very challenging, the agency should remain focused on achieving the existing target of making 96.14% of payments by 30 June and continue to prioritise activity in respect of claimants who find themselves in difficult circumstances. 

“I have also discussed with him additional steps that can be taken to help achieve this.”

Mr Miliband said that he had reported on 22 February that some 25,000 cases from 2005 had been identified for review.

“With new ones identified as others are dealt with, that number now stands at 22,000. Outstanding work to review entitlement values for all these claims will now be undertaken separately from the process of making payments under the 2006 scheme.

“Any corrections to SPS 2005 and 2006 payments will follow as necessary. The RPA Chief Executive is taking a number of other steps to further streamline processing of claims.”

He added: “I am very aware of the impact on individual farmers of the payment timetable and the service levels the RPA currently offers in respect of the SPS. I remain committed to ensuring continued improvements in these areas.”

Read FWi’s special report on Single Farm Payments