Rebecca Evans, Deputy Minister for Farming and Food
Following my Written Statement of 13 January concerning the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), we have now processed more than 90% of BPS part payments to our farm businesses. I expect all but the most complex claims to be paid by the end of this month. The final instalments (of approximately 20%) will be made in April in line with our published target.
If an eligible farm business has not received their BPS part payment by the end of this month, they will receive a personalised letter in early April explaining why they have not been paid, and detailing any outstanding issues. Reasons could include: cross border cases with commons or inspections in England, and outstanding Grant of Probate. Once processing is complete these post-March cases will receive a single full payment.
I am pleased to announce the 2016 Single Application Form (SAF), and transfer and lease of entitlements facility, are now available on RPW Online. The online service has again been improved to make it easier and quicker for farm businesses to make their claims. It has the benefit of built -in validation checks during the completion of the SAF with warnings and failure messages given as appropriate as entries are made, as well as access to farm maps, and the ability to make changes to the map which links to the field data in the application. The deadline to submit a SAF is 16 May 2016. This year the SAF is available online only. If farm businesses have any queries or need help they should contact the Customer Contact Centre (Tel: 0300 062 5004). Farmers who are unable to access online services independently can arrange a digital assistance meeting at Welsh Government regional office to complete their SAF. These meetings can be arranged by calling the Customer Contact Centre. This should be done by 15 March to guarantee an appointment.
I am pleased to announce that I have asked RPW to implement a new optional provision, introduced by the European Commission for this year, whereby they will carry out preliminary checks to help farm businesses avoid over declaration penalties, where differences have been found between their claim and our mapping. RPW will write to farmers with mismatches by 13 June 2016 and farm businesses will have until 21 June 2016 to respond if they wish to alter their claim.
Where we have received appeals against area deductions of SAF 2015 these are progressing, although RPW are prioritising the processing of part-payments in the first instance. We aim to complete the majority of appeals we have received by the end of February by the end of this month (31st March) and the rest within the SAF 2016 submission period.
I would like to take this opportunity to once more thank everyone, including the Farmers Union of Wales, National Farmers Union Cymru, Country Land and Business Association Cymru, agents and others, who have worked with us to develop and implement BPS and the online service.