Many Environmental Stewardship and Countryside Stewardship agreement holders are experiencing delays to their annual payments. This is not only frustrating but can cause major cash flow problems.
Both schemes are now administered by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) and payments are supposed to be made bi-annually, but where is the money??
It seems the current payment backlog for some agreement holders extends to 2015, as a result of inspections and wide scale mapping updates, and the subsequent requirement for manual changes to agreements.
DEFRA has announced today that agreement holders who have not received a full payment for the 2015 to 2018 scheme years, will receive a treasury-funded payment for 100% of the estimated claim value held on the RPA's IT system, during July. The RPA will be contacting agreement holders shortly.
We believe that if once the RPA has finished processing claims, there is a difference between what has already been paid and the final calculated claim value, they will either issue top-up payments or seek recovery of overpayments.
Payments in respect of the current year cannot be made until payments for previous years have been cleared. The RPA has not given a timescale for when 2019 payments can be expected.
As above, the current policy is to pay 75% of the annual claim value part way through the year, with the remaining 25% being paid as a final payment at the end of the year.
Countryside Stewardship operates under a different IT system to Environmental Stewardship, and it appears the payment backlog is not as serious.
As above, those who have not received full annual payments in respect of the 2015 to 2018 scheme years will also benefit from a treasury-funded payment during July 2019 in an attempt to clear the backlog.
As yet, no timescales have been given for 2019 payments.
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