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Under the EU regulations supporting the rural enterprise scheme, 50 per cent. of funding comes from the European Union. These European funds are allocated on an annual basis and it is generally not possible to transfer any unspent EU funds to a later financial year. This scheme, therefore, requires close and careful financial management. To this end, each region is given an annual budget within which it must manage the grant awards it has made. This will include any delays to project expenditure and therefore delays to claims, as well as any under or over-claims by beneficiaries.
The performance of approved projects is subject to continuous review to establish the true value of any 'headroom' in annual budgets. For 2006-07, a detailed exercise is in place to ensure that budgets are used to the maximum extent possible. In this regard, it is expected that some additional monies will be identified as available to support new grant awards before the closure of the scheme at the end of June. The precise value of funds available for grant awards will be confirmed by mid-June.
There will continue to be significant competition for the remaining funds; the Rural Development Service will continue to manage the position carefully in 2006-07, with a view to the possible redirection of funds between regions where regional interest in the scheme is genuinely lower than anticipated.
Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs whether money allocated to the South West for grants to be made under the Rural Enterprise Scheme has been subsequently transferred to other areas. 
Mrs. Dorries: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many payments have been made by the Rural Payments Agency to farmers in (a) mid-Bedfordshire, (b) Bedfordshire and (c) the UK in each year since 2000; and if she will make a statement. 
Barry Gardiner: Details of payments made by the Rural Payments Agency under farm-based schemes are set out in the tables. Payments to farmers in mid-Bedfordshire and in Bedfordshire are available only for the two years 2003-04 and 2004-05.
|(a) Payments made to farmers for mid-Bedfordshire|
| Note: Analysis by parliamentary constituency is not available prior to this date.|
|(b) Payments made to farmers in Bedfordshire|
|(c) Data for farmed-based schemes payments made by RPA for England|
The detail supporting each of the years in the tables can be found in RPA's Annual Report and Accounts under House of Commons publication numbers HC 1197 (for both 2000-01 and 2001-02), HC 940, HC 1009 and HC 82 respectively.
Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many claim forms for the 2006-07 Single Payments Scheme (a) were sent by the Rural Payments Agency to potential applicants before 13 April 2006 and (b) have been sent on or since 13 April 2006; and if he will make a statement. 
Barry Gardiner: The Rural Payments Agency issued 84,334 SPS application forms to potential applicants before 13 April 2006 and a further 33,902 application forms have been issued on or since 13 April 2006.
Mr. Jenkin: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many people have been sent a set of application forms for payments in 2006 by the Rural Payments Agency; how many completed applications have been returned; and how many forms remain to be issued. 
Barry Gardiner: The Rural Payments Agency issued 118,236 SP5 application forms between 21 March 2006 and 26 April 2006 to known customers. As of 25 May 2006, 90,225 completed application forms have been returned and logged. No forms remain to be issued.
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many and what proportion of e-mails to the Rural Payments Agency have been (a) acknowledged within one working day and (b) replied to within 15 working days in each month since October 2001. 
Barry Gardiner: The following information refers to e-mails sent to the Rural Payments Agency's Customer Service Centre (CSC), e-mail address CSC@rpa.gsi.gov.uk. The CSC was established in February 2005 and the following information is based upon statistics collected from 29 April 2005 to 16 May 2006.
|Month||e-mails received||Resolved within 15 days|
Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many telephone calls to the Rural Payments Agency Customer Service Centre resulted in left messages in the last 12 months; and what proportion of those calls were returned within one working day. 
Barry Gardiner: The Rural Payment Agency's (RPA) Customer Service Centre (CSC) provides an inquiry response facility and, outside business hours, a recorded messaging service, referring customers to RPA's website. As such the CSC seeks to answer inquiries as they are made. A proportion of the inquiries that are answered require a follow up response from a CSC operator or a member of RPA's processing staff. Moreover, RPA provides an electronic ordering facility for those customers seeking to acquire an application form or other scheme literature.
RPA launched a CSC on 14 February 2005. This was done to streamline single payment scheme and customer registration telephone inquiries into the Agency through one route, to allow staff to concentrate on processing. More importantly, this system aims to ensure that customers receive consistent answers and that any more complex inquiries can be directed to specialist areas of the business to call the customer back.
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what IT contracts the Rural Payments Agency has with private
businesses; what the cost of each is; and what assessment he has made of their value for money. 
|Major IT hardware/software contracts£500,000|
Axios Systems Consultants
Business Objects UK Ltd.
Dell Computer Corporation
EMC Documentum Ltd.
Quest Software (UK) Ltd.
Serena Software Europe Ltd.
Sun Microsystems Ltd.
Verisign UK Ltd.
Cable and Wireless
Grapevine Communications Ltd.
Internal Videocomms Ltd.
|Major contractsover £500,000|
IT Service and Support Consulting
PA Consulting Group
Parity Solutions Ltd.
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