RPA pays out £1.8bn in first month of payment window

Around £1.8bn has been paid out to farmers in the first month of the payment window, the RPA said
Around £1.8bn has been paid out to farmers in the first month of the payment window, the RPA said

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has paid out 101,300 eligible claims - totalling £1.8bn - in the first month of the payment window running between December and June.

This represents 98% of eligible claims to the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), 62% of claims to Countryside Stewardship (CS) revenue and 65% of claims to Environmental Stewardship (ES) 2021.

In addition, across 2021, £66.7m was paid out in Countryside Stewardship Capital Grants which support the establishment and maintenance of woodland and hedges.

Just under 5,700 CS Capital claims were paid out within an average of 30 working days, the RPA said in a report looking at the progress made last year.

Following measures to simplify the scheme, the agency said it had received a 40% increase in applications in comparison to 2020.

There are now over 40,000 farmers in England participating in either Countryside Stewardship or legacy Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) schemes.

RPA chief executive, Paul Caldwell, said: “We’ve worked hard to get payments made as quickly as possible – and will continue to do so.

“I understand how important it is to help farmers through the transition period, to help them secure their future and our key focus is to help everyone make the most of the opportunities from the Agricultural Transition Plan.

"I am proud of what we have achieved in 2021 and we are focused on delivering more great results for our farmers in 2022.”

Last year saw the launch of the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) pilot, with over 2,500 expressions of interest and over 900 applicants.

The agency also saw an improved interest for the new Capital Grants scheme, with over 3,000 applications received to improve air quality, water quality, boundary trees and orchards or a mixture of these options.

Meanwhile, the Countryside Productivity Small Grants Scheme provided investment towards specific items of equipment which improve productivity and efficiency for farming businesses.

Under this scheme, the RPA said it had released £16 million payments to just over 2,800 eligible claims.