More than 14,000 Single Payment Scheme (SPS) applicants in England have moved online in 2014, according to figures from the Rural Payment Agency (RPA).
Final figures for SPS 2014, which closed on 9 June, show 70,249 claimants applied digitally for their SPS payment this year - up 27 per cent from 55,381 in 2013.
Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) changes due to come into force next year include a new EU farm payments scheme, the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), and the introduction of a new online system CAP Information Service (CAPIS).
Customer Services Director for the RPA, Justin Chamberlain said:
“We have worked hard to support business and personal customers to move online as part of our commitment to reducing costs and improving service by offering more and better digital options.
“This is a fantastic result which leaves thousands more farm businesses better prepared for the changes coming in in 2015, including the new online service.
“In support of government ambitions to encourage digital take-up, we will continue to work closely with customers and stakeholders to further improve our online services.
“We will be helping people to understand how the new CAP will affect them, what they need to do and by when in order to move as smoothly as possible to the new schemes and IT service.”
Defra, together with the RPA, Natural England and the Forestry Commission, has recently issued a new leaflet. When read with the latest policy announcements, it will give farmers the most up-to-date available information on new ‘greening’ rules, which are part of the CAP changes.
Full information on all matters CAP Reform can be found on GOV.UK.
NOTES TO EDITORS
Under the new CAP, which comes into effect from 2015, farming, wildlife, rural businesses and the wider economy in England are set to benefit from £15 billion in funding.
Defra is developing CAP schemes to reflect the new requirements including those relating to greening, the active farmer test, hill farmers and young farmers and a new online service to help everyone who wants to apply for CAP funds to do so in a quick and simple way.
Defra, working with the RPA, Natural England and the Forestry Commission is determined to implement the CAP in a way that is as simple, affordable and effective as possible.
At each step of the countdown, information will be made available to help people understand how the new CAP will affect them, and what they need to do, and by when, to move as smoothly as possible to the new schemes and online service. We will keep up to date information available through the GOV.UK website at www.gov.uk/cap-reform.
The GOV.UK website provides a single point of access to further guidance on CAP. The new CAP Reform Countdown symbol on the cover of the information is being used to flag up important information about CAP Reform. Farmers and land managers will see this on webpages and other documents in coming months.
As decisions are made this information will be:
- Timely – RPA is already letting farmers and land managers know now about early business decisions they must take on issues like entitlements transfer and crop diversification.
- Available to everyone who needs it – existing and potential new customers
- Easy to understand and act upon – no complicated jargon
- Clearly signposted – the CAP Reform Countdown symbol means there is important information you need to know or actions to take now.
- Summer – More information on greening. Asking some farmers to look at the new system to check personal and business details. This will be an on-going process rolling out to all customers by the end of the year.
- Autumn – clear guidance for young farmers and new entrants to the scheme.
- Winter – information and guidance will be published on the new environmental land management scheme (NELMS).
- Early in 2015 – farmers and land managers will be able to look at their land online and check their entitlements are accurate
Most of the funding under the new CAP period (more than £11.5bn) will be paid under direct payment schemes to farmers. The new Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) – including the greening payment and the young farmer payment - will replace the Single Payment Scheme (SPS).
There will also be at least £3.5bn of investment into the environment and rural economy under Rural Development schemes over the next seven years. The programme will support the environment, the farming and forestry sectors, and businesses and communities in rural areas. Even with a smaller overall CAP budget, the government will be spending a bigger share on the environment than before.
Want to know more?
Anyone interested in reading more about CAP Reform and the discussions that are taking place – including the Defra consultations – should go to www.gov.uk/cap-reform.