Following successful small-scale initial trials, the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) is now rolling out to 1,000 farmers and agents the chance to test a new online service which enables customers to view their land details on a digital map.
The Rural Land Register (RLR) map viewer is a forerunner to the fully online service to be launched by Defra in 2014/15 for payment schemes under the new CAP. Like all aspects of the new service, this is a phased development which uses ongoing insight and feedback from customer testing to shape a product which exactly fulfils the needs of the end user.
The viewer currently on test offers instant access to the most up to date maps of the customer’s land holdings along with Ordnance Survey mapping and aerial photography. Users will also be able to search for fields and map sheets, to draw lines and measure areas as well as print maps to support land change requests to the RPA.
RPA’s Information and Technology Director Ed Schofield said:
“RPA is amongst the leaders in the provision of digital services and we are determined to keep getting better. More than half of our customers now apply for their Single Payment Scheme (SPS) payments online and we are working hard to support the rest to make this important change.
“In line with central government ambitions, we are committed to reducing costs and improving customer service by offering more and better digital options.
“This new viewer is the result of close working with partners and customers to further improve our online services. It is quick, simple and in time will help improve the accuracy of the data we hold, which in turn will ensure fast and accurate payments to our customers.”
Initial testing has been positive with 88% of farmers and 100% of agents stating they would recommend the viewer. 68% rated their experience between 4 and 5 on a scale where 5 equals “completely satisfied with the experience”. The current trial will continue to provide valuable customer feedback to RPA and this will be used to inform an implementation approach to SPS Online customers.
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.