The scale-back rate on single farm payments to pay for the national reserve has been set at 4.2% for the 2005 scheme year.

Separate announcements are being made in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but the 4.2% figure applies across the whole UK.

“I am pleased that we will be able to meet all valid applications to the national reserve with a scale-back figure of only 4.2%, which is lower than some industry experts had expected,” said junior DEFRA minister Lord Bach.

“It has been arrived at after assessing the applications and has been agreed by all UK governments as a vital way of ensuring the monies are distributed fairly across the industry.”

Lord Bach said setting the figure would allow the Rural Payments Agency to stick to its timetable of beginning England’s SPS payments in full by the end of February.

“It is a vital step in the process and one which I am sure the industry will see as a welcome reassurance that we remain firmly on track.”

Farmers were eligible to apply to the national reserve if they believed they qualified under one or more of eight specific categories and were required to supply documentary evidence in support of their application.

Click for more on SFP payments in England.