Bill Wiggin MP lobbied the Government this week to ensure IT glitches don’t prevent Herefordshire farmers from being paid on time.

North Herefordshire MP Bill Wiggin questioned the Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, George Eustice MP, in the House of Commons on Thursday 12 March about the Basic Payments Scheme.

Bill Wiggin MP said: “My constituents, the National Farmers Union and I are very worried about the Basic Payments Scheme that has replaced the Single Farm Payment.

There is growing concern that delays in rolling out the new IT system could lead to delays in the online application process and to farmers not being paid on time.

I felt it was important to raise our concerns with the Government during DEFRA questions in the House of Commons on Thursday.

I am pleased the Government has acknowledged there is a problem and that they are now working to resolve it.

It is vital for farmers, not only in North Herefordshire, that this problem with the online application is sorted out and they are paid on time.”


Bill Wiggin (North Herefordshire) (Con): What assessment she has made of trends in the performance of the Rural Payments Agency since 2010. [908021]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (George Eustice): Under this Government, the Rural Payments Agency has dealt with the historical issues of late payments to farmers, which were a feature under the last Government. This year it released payments to 97.4% of claimants within the first month, and 2013-14 was the agency’s most successful year to date, with more customers being paid on the first day than ever before, and with high customer satisfaction scores.

Bill Wiggin: I must declare my interest in farming. Will the basic payments system be ready by 15 May? Why are farmers expected to draw ineligible features, instead of satellite mapping being used? What sort of support is there if they make any errors in the process, so that they are not being set up to fail?

Mr Speaker: There were three questions there, but at least each was brief.

George Eustice: On the first point, I can report that over 75% of farmers are now registered on the system. Some of them are experiencing issues with the slowness of the mapping system, and we are working to address that. On my hon. Friend’s question about why they have to map, they have always had to map ineligible features—that is a requirement of the EU regulations—but they are entered on to the final application by digitisers, who check that the area is mapped correctly.