The NFU is calling for better integration of delivery between BPS and Countryside Stewardship, asking the RPA to seek to achieve this as a basic service standard.
NFU Deputy President Guy Smith and Vice President Stuart Roberts met RPA chief executive Paul Caldwell last week to stress the need for delivery improvements.
Defra Secretary of State Michael Gove has himself described the delivery of Countryside Stewardship schemes as ‘dreadful’. The recent update on activity does not inspire confidence that delivery is improving. There have been changes in staffing, but delivery remains very poor. Despite the NFU raising concerns last year about remapping, Natural England appears to have been unprepared for the impact and this has further impacted on delivery.
The NFU is asking for short term fixes to get payments out and January 2018 agreement offers made before the annual claim deadline of 15 May.
The NFU is asking for:
- Bridging payments for those that have not been paid
- A derogation from the 15 May claim deadline for those waiting for 2018 agreement offers
- 2018 applicants to have more time to submit soil samples, currently expected by 15 May
- Guidance for agreement holders/applicants on dealing with the impact of remapping
The NFU continues to highlight the need for a fundamental step change in delivery to overcome the growing backlog of work and move forward to achieving delivery where:
- Payments are made in the autumn and spring, as expected
- Agreement offers are made before the agreement starts
- There’s clear and appropriate advice to help applicants and agreement holders