The DELIVERY of Environmental Stewardship (ES) and Countryside Stewardship (CS) moved across to the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) from Natural England (NE) on October 1.

The RPA is aiming for a reasonably seamless transfer, while agreement holders should continue to use the routes they do now to raise agri-environment scheme queries: the same phone numbers and the NE email addresses.

Defra, NE and RPA are working closely together to deliver on improvements on ES and CS.

There is a programme of measures being implemented to improve delivery performance. The measures include:

nBringing in more staff to get 2018 payments out more quickly and significantly earlier than they have been. This will allow existing staff to concentrate on getting remaining payments out from the current round and on processing next year’s agreements.

nMaking resources available for necessary IT and business process changes to improve processing times. This includes the introduction of a simpler method for making amendments to claims which will help improve processing of claims.

nReducing the number of mapping changes in 2018/19. This will speed up the resolution of mapping changes and queries.

The NFU continues to call for delivery improvements and wants to see the results on the ground.

In the future we would like to see a basic level of service to include having maps and field areas determined for the duration.