The Common Agricultural Policy after 2013 - Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee Contents

11  Simplification

223.  Simplification and reducing the administrative cost of the CAP was a shared aim among witnesses,[383] in particular, Defra.[384] The Communication also gives simplification as one of the Commission's objectives.[385] A clear policy with clear objectives and relatively simple instruments is vital to achieving this aim. Implementation of the CAP is a major expense, particularly in England where in 2008-09 administering each Single Farm Payment was estimated to cost over £1,700, compared to less than £300 in Scotland.[386] Moreover, according to Defra, the cost in England alone of responding to EU audits of the CAP is over £1.6m per year.[387] The Central Association of Agricultural Valuers noted "the government's negotiating position should take into account the Rural Payments Agency's ability to implement any changes".[388]

224.  We support the aim of simplifying the CAP and recommend that Defra robustly resist the imposition of policies that would create undue bureaucracy and burden for farmers or the government payment agencies. We are particularly concerned that the Commission's proposals for a multi-tiered single farm payment will necessitate expensive new computer and control systems. We encourage Defra to negotiate a simpler payment scheme that can be adapted to the existing instruments.

225.  However, we note that much of the additional complexity and 'red-tape' is added at national level. We await with interest the conclusions of the Red Tape Task Force, expected in May 2011. We have a strong interest in ensuring farmers are not unduly burdened with regulation, nor tax-payers with implementation costs, and intend to revisit the issue of implementation of the CAP in future.

383   Among others, the RSPB (Ev 106), the NFU (Ev119), the Farmers Union of Wales (Ev w47), National Assembly for Wales Rural Development Sub-Committee (Ev w22), the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Northern Ireland Assembly (Ev w29), the Scottish Government (Ev w39). The Pack inquiry into Future Support for Agriculture in Scotland also makes several recommendations regarding simplification (p 91-92). Back

384   Ev 171, Ev 173 Back

385   The CAP towards 2020, p 7. Back

386   National Audit Office, A Second Progress Update on the Administration of the Single Payment Scheme by the Rural Payments Agency, October 2009. According to Defra, the cost of administering an SPS claim in England will fall to £850 per claimant in 2010-11(Ev 176). Back

387   Ev 173 Back

388   Ev w38 Back

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