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Review of Single Payment Scheme Needed Urgently - Williams

2009 Tachwedd 11 3:43 PM

Roger Williams, MP for Brecon and Radnorshire and Liberal Democrat Food and Rural Affairs spokesperson, has called for a review of the Single Payment Scheme (SPS), following a response to a Parliamentary Question (PQ) from Jim Fitzpatrick MP, Minister of State at the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs.

The response showed that the cost of processing a claim was £1743 for the most recent year, whilst the lowest claim processed was for just £0.01p.

Commenting today, Mr Williams said:

"The cost of processing a claim is absolutely staggering and of even more concern is that far from having reduced it has actually increased by £300 over four years.

"The fact that a payment of £0.01p was made just goes to show that this system needs a total overhaul. This is money that could be put to better use and directed towards farmers who genuinely need financial assistance in the current economic climate.

"This system has always had problems but these latest figures go to show just how little control DEFRA has on reducing costs within the SPS and it is essential that changes are made to the system as a matter of urgency.

"The Liberal Democrats would introduce a deminimus payment of £300. This would potentially save up to £14m in terms of payments and processing costs and would ensure that money was directed towards genuine food producers.

"The money saved by introducing a minimum payment could then used to fund a hill farming apprenticeship scheme to ensure the future viability of the uplands and, as a result, the wider farming sector.

"With increasing concern over food security, Ministers must look at reducing costs within the SPS and ensure that those who produce food for consumers are the main beneficiaries."