NFU president Peter Kendall has visited the Rural Payments Agency’s Reading headquarters to find out if changes to mapping procedures are speeding up the validation of farmers Single Payment Scheme claims.

Mr Kendall was taken through the mapping process with a typical SPS claim and shown how changes to the maps were then inputted onto the Rural Land Register (RLR).

Commenting after the visit, Mr Kendall said technical and organisational changes had been introduced and staff were doing their level best to get through mapping tasks.

But he added: “I have yet to be reassured that they [the changes] are filtering through to make a difference to the headline payment figures. Are they really making a difference to how quickly farmers are getting paid?”

One of the fundamental changes made since the new acting chief executive, Mark Addison, took over is the “buddying up” of SPS processors and RLR mappers.

This means someone looking at a farmer’s claim and finding an area discrepancy can then liaise directly with a mapper to solve any problem, cutting down the time needed before that parcel is approved.

A second vital change is the mapping, which was outsourced, has been brought back into the RPA, permitting changes to the Rural Land Register to be made directly into the SPS processing system.

This again, cuts out steps in the chain.