Claims paid by MAFF to farmers in 1999
|Number of Claims|
|Total Expenditure(1)||Average payment
|Arable Area Payments||44,706
|Sheep Annual Premium||33,231
|Beef Special Premium(2)||113,035
|Suckler Cow Premium||21,924
1 Excluding agrimonetary payments but, for BSP and SCP, including
2 Farmers can make up to 12 claims for Beef Special Premium in
a calendar year.
21. As a result ofthe various checks, a number of claims
are reduced or rejected and, where appropriate, the penalties
in the IACS legislation and/or domestic legislation are applied.
Farmers who wish to query a decision on a claim can take it up
with their Regional Service Centre. It is then looked at again
by senior RSC staff, who consult the NSMC, the Policy Division
and lawyers on difficult cases. If the decision is maintained
and the farmer is still not satisfied, he can ask his Member of
Parliament to raise it with the Minister. The Minister's decision
can be challenged through the judicial review process, which may
involve a reference to the European Court of Justice to determine
points of EU law. Some in the industry have expressed concern
that the current procedures are entirely internal to MAFF and
would like to see a more independent element brought into the
process. This was one of the recommendations of the IACS and Inspections
Red Tape working group set up by the Minister and the NFU President,
Ben Gill, in September last year, as part of a wider review of
regulatory burdens on farmers. The Minister has indicated his
willingness to consult farmers on possible options for changing
the appeals arrangements which might be of benefit to them and
a consultation document will be issued before the end of this
year. The Minister accepted all the working group's recommendations
and progress on implementing a number of them is described in
paragraphs 27 to 32.
22. There are also procedures for dealing with complaints.
If a farmer thinks that his claim has not been handled properly,
he can refer his case to a MAFF's Service Standards Division and/or
appeal through his Member of Parliament to the Parliamentary Commssioner
23. Scheme Manager Visits (formerly known as Best Practice
Visits) ensure correct operation of the scheme. At the end of
each annual programme of visits to RSCs, the National Scheme Management
Centre issues a report of its findings and offers guidance based
on aspects of scheme implementation which reflect Best Practice.
The Regional Organisation is also developing benchmarking through
"process mapping" its operations. This approach involves
drawing up a flow chart that shows all the steps involved in a
process, and who is responsible for each one. As work progresses
in this area in each of the Regional Service Centres, different
ways of managing processes are being identified and compared with
the objective of making improvements.
24. MAFF's Regional Organisation has also started to
use the EFQM Excellence Model. This work is being co-ordinated
by a trained facilitator, who has experience of using the model
with another Government Department.
Different approaches to the self-assessment process are being
piloted and staff at four of the nine Regional Service Centres
are involved. The process has identified areas where improvements
may be made. These are incorporated in action plans. Action points
relate to present business processes and will be used both for
planning business continuity and in taking forward work on the
new CAP Paying Agency.
25. Efforts are also made to compare MAFF's scheme administration
with that of Paying Agencies in other Member States. In the last
year, there have been exchanges with (or visits to) Austria, Denmark
and Sweden. In addition, the Head of CAP Scheme Management Division
attends the twice-yearly Conferences of Directors of EU Paying
Agencies. These conferences are attended by representatives of
all the Member States, as well as the Commission (the Directorate
General for Agriculture and the Anti-Fraud Office) the Court of
Auditors, and the Secretariat to the Council of Ministers. Topics
covered at the last meeting, held in May 2000, included:
Commission plans for an agricultural database;
the role of the Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF);
the simplification of Community legislation; and
the work of the "Panta Rhei" Group.
26. The Panta Rhei Group meets every six months to discuss
IT developments and benchmarking. Topics covered at the meting
in April 2000 included the management of IT developments, electronic
communication, and implementing Agenda 2000. The October meeting
of the group considered IT strategy and organisation, and the
outcome of the pilot work on benchmarking between Paying Agencies.
MAFF RSC staff attended the benchmarking workshops at the April
meeting, which are comparing procedures for customer and staff
surveys and for operating some of the livestock schemes.
27. MAFF is currently taking forward plans for a number
of developments designed both to improve its scheme administration
and to provide a better service to farmers. These developments,
a Geographic Information System (GIS);
combined cattle inspections; and
simplification of the IACS rules.
are in line with the recommendations of the IACS and Inspections
Working Group. Most importantly, the Ministry and the Intervention
Board are now actively working together to create the new CAP
Paying Agency (CAPPA) for which funds have been allocated in the
2000 Spending Review.
28. Electronic versions of the IACS forms were successfully
piloted in the Anglia Region earlier this year. 15 per cent of
the 8,000 farmers who submit claims to Cambridge RSC indicated
their willingness to participate. Just over 200 of them were selected,
of whom 164 were able to lodge their IACS declarations electronically.
All these applications were successfully loaded into the RSC's
processing systems at the first attempt, whereas the success rate
from paper forms can be as low as 60 per cent. Half of those who
submitted applications were interviewed: 70 per cent said that
they intended to submit claims electronically in the future and
another 18 per cent would do so if the system was improved. These
farmers had found the e-forms easy to use and they particularly
appreciated the ways in which these "intelligent" forms
had prevented them from making some at least of the mistakes which
can deprive them of all or part of their subsidy. As part of the
Action Plan for Farming announced by the Prime Minister on 30
March, MAFF is now working to make electronic IACS forms available
to all farmers in England next year.
29. The Ministry's plans to introduce a Geographic Information
System (GIS) pre-dated the recent changes to the IACS legislation
and are proceeding well. The GIS will be based on the digitised
maps provided by Ordnance Survey and will replace the alphanumeric
database currently in use.
30. A toolkit designed to provide mapping facilities
for RSCs, eg for producing maps needed for inspections, is under
development at Reading RSC and a procurement exercise to select
a contractor to carry out the data capture and digitisation of
1.7 million agricultural parcels in England is expected to be
launched shortly. The digitisation process, which will provide
a firm baseline for farmers' IACS declarations and subsidy claims
in the future, will be carried out in consultation with the industry.
A map showing the GIS data will be sent to each application on
completion of the digitisation process. This map should make the
completion of Area Aid applications more efficient and reduce
the number of errors made. The GIS will also allow the inspection
process to be improved. When fully operational, it should be possible
to streamline validation processes, provide effective cross checking
and reduce validation times. In the longer term the GIS will afford
the opportunity to streamline electronic forms further by providing
a more interactive and transparent means of making claims spatially.
31. Work being done to reduce the inspection burden on
farms is two-fold. MAFF is currently working on the Combined Bovine
Risk Analysis (CoBRA) project which aims to combine the various
inspections for which it is responsible under the beef subsidy
schemes and cattle identification rules. Not only will this allow
us to reduce the number of separate farm visits, but the animals
and records subjected to inspection will be looked at in totality.
This will enable the inspecting officer to resolve cross-scheme
issues at the time of inspection and reduce the need for repeat
visits to inspect individual claims made under the various schemes.
Furthermore MAFF is looking at options for rationalising and co-ordinating
the on-farm inspections carried out by other authorities.
32. All these developments should make it easier for
farmers to submit valid claims and for MAFF's Regional Organisation
to meet its efficiency targets. But more progress could be made
if the IACS rules were simplified. In June, the Minister and his
French counterpart agreed on a number of ways in which the rules
could be simplified without undermining the effectiveness of IACS
as an anti-fraud mechanism. The French Government, which has made
CAP simplification a major theme of its Presidency of the EU,
canvassed the views of other Member States and the Commission
on the measures proposed in the joint UK-French note. This initiative
culminated in a presentation by Commissioner Fischler, at the
October Agriculture Council, of the priority areas for simplification
and in agreement by Agriculture Ministers that discussions on
these changes should be taken forward rapidly. The priorities
for change include both the rules for selecting claims under the
cattle schemes for inspection, which will facilitate combined
inspections, and for the inclusion of hedges and other field margins
in claims for arable area payments.
33. The Minister announced on 24 July that a new CAP
Payments Agency would be created by merging the paying agency
functions of the MAFF and the Intervention Board. The Ministry
secured a ring-fenced allocation of £130 million in SR2000
to create the new agency over the three years commencing April
2001. It will be situated at five sites around England: Carlisle,
Newcastle, Northallerton and Exeter, with its headquarters at
34. The new paying agency will provide a step change
in the delivery of CAP services to farmers and traders. It will
provide high quality customer service, harnessing the benefits
of new technology. Farmers and traders will benefit from a reduction
in "red tape" and more efficient and rapid processing
of payments. The Ministry is committed in its Public Service Agreement
(covering the period 2001-04) to achieve 95 per cent electronic
service delivery capability by March 2004. Customers of the new
paying agency will be able to submit their claims for CAP payments
electronically over the Internet. "Intelligent" electronic
claim forms will be easier to complete, guiding customers through
the form filling process. There will be immediate online validation
of claims helping to prevent simple errors and omissions. This
will allow claimants to be more confident that they have completed
their applications correctly, and greatly reduce the burden of
form filling. It should also help to ensure that claims can be
paid at the beginning of the EU payment window.
35. The introduction of electronic claim submission will
be staged, and the new arrangements will be brought online one
scheme at a time. The first will be the electronic version of
the 2001 IACS form which the Ministry aims to roll out across
England next year. It is recognised that many farmers are apprehensive
about using new technology to claim for valuable subsidies. The
Ministry and the Intervention Board will continue to work closely
with their customers to help them reap the benefits that electronic
service delivery offers. However, the facility to submit paper
claim forms will remain for the foreseeable future. In addition,
the Minister has made a commitment to maintain arrangements for
face-to-face local contacts with farmers, at least until the new
IT systems are fully operational and everyone has easy local access
to the Internet.
36. The new paying agency will also provide significant
benefits for taxpayers. One of the Ministry's targets in the period
2001-04 will be to achieve a ten per cent reduction in the unit
costs of administering CAP payments by March 2004. There will
be further savings in subsequent years once the new agency is
fully established. Creating the new agency will be a large and
complex project and the Ministry and IB are fully aware of the
inherent risks associated with it. External project management
expertise has been brought in to give the project strong leadership
and direction. A comprehensive risk management strategy has been
implemented in line with the Turnbull Report.
37. The Ministry is not alone in modernising its administration
of CAP payments. Similar steps are being taken in a number of
other Member States, most notably in the Netherlands and Sweden.
Attendance at the Paying Agency Director's Conference and the
Panta Rhei Group, together with bilateral visits and exchanges,
and meetings in Brussels to consider changes to the IACS legislation
provide opportunities to exchange ideas on how to modernise and
simplify CAP scheme administration.
38. Since its introduction in 1993, the Ministry's implementation
of the Integrated Administration and Control systems has evolved
continually to take account of changes to the EU legislation underpinning
the agricultural support schemes, most recently the changes introduced
under the Agency 2000 reform. In that time, MAFF has striven to
balance the requirements for tight control over the disbursement
of public funds with the needs of the farming industry through
effective and efficient scheme administration. The new CAP paying
agency offers the prospect of delivering significant improvements
for both farmers and taxpayers.