The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has stated that it has delivered its best ever December payment performance and paid just under 98% of Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) claims despite the challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Payments during December were made to around 82,500 eligible claimants and were worth more than £1.77 billion in total.

In addition the RPA brought forward more full Countryside Stewardship (CS) and Environmental Stewardship (ES) payments in December, with just under 68% of eligible CS revenue and just over 57% of ES claims paid, totaling £67 million.

There was also an increase in the number of CS 2021 agreements issued with over 63% of applicants receiving their offers by the end of the year.

RPA chief executive, Paul Caldwell, said:

We understand how important our services are to farmers and land managers across the country and I’m pleased that we have been able to show year on year improvements.

“It has been a difficult year for many and I am pleased that we have shown our commitment to agricultural and rural communities, and to those that have kept the nation fed during such challenging times.”

Other payments made

The agency also issued 236 eligible agreements under the Flood Recovery Fund worth £1.7 million to support farmers who suffered uninsurable damage to their property in the devastating floods in November 2019.

In light of the disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak the RPA took the decision to extend the window to submit applications for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and make a claim for Countryside Stewardship (CS), Environmental Stewardship (ES) and woodland legacy revenue payments by one month.

This gave farmers and their agents an extra month to submit applications and claims, helping them to avoid penalties for late applications.