Thousands log on to claim SPS payment

Sheep on the hills.
Sheep on the hills.

More than 3,000 Single Payment Scheme claimants in the North East have applied online in 2014, according to figures from the Rural Payment Agency.

Final figures for SPS 2014, which closed on June 9, show 3,187 claimants applied digitally for their SPS payment this year – more than 76 per cent of the region’s 4,158 applicants.

Common Agricultural Policy changes due to come into force next year include a new EU farm payments scheme, the Basic Payment Scheme and the introduction of a new online CAP Information Service.

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.”

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 £15billion in funding.

Most of the funding will be paid under direct payment schemes to farmers.

There will also be at least £3.5billion of investment into the environment and rural economy under Rural Development schemes over the next seven years.