Dáil Éireann - Volume 669 - 03 December, 2008

Written Answers. - Grant Payments.

Deputy Joan Burton asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the number of farmers paid to date and the amount of money paid out under the single payment scheme and the disadvantage areas compensatory allowance scheme; the number of applicants and [628] funds available under these schemes; the number of applicants awaiting payment; the amounts outstanding under the schemes; when applicants are expected to receive payments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43965/08]

  Deputy Brendan Smith: The net financial ceiling under the 2008 Single Payment Scheme is €1.274 billion, net of 5% Modulation, while the budgetary figure for the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme (DAS) is €257 million, which also includes provision for residue payments from previous years.

Although a total of 133,046 applications were received under the 2008 Schemes, these represent a maximum payable of approximately 125,000 Single Payment applications, the balance of applications having been submitted in connection with participation in the DAS and REPS schemes.

While under the EU regulations governing the Single Payment Scheme, the earliest date payments may issue is 1 December of the scheme-year concerned, provision is also made for payments to be made earlier, subject to EU approval. Prompted by the very wet summer, which seriously affected farming, I approached the Agriculture Commissioner seeking agreement to an early advance 50% payment, in line with arrangements agreed for the 2007 scheme. The necessary approval was readily forthcoming and advance payments began issuing on 16 October, the first day of the new EU financial year, with balancing payments beginning to issue on 1 December. To date, payments of €1.2 billion have issued to some 121,000 applicants. Deductions in respect of Modulation, at a rate of 5%, have been taken from those payments already made; the refunds due in respect of the deductions made on the first €5,000 of each individual’s total Single Payment will be made early in the New Year.

Under the 2008 Disadvantaged Areas Scheme, 104,783 applications were submitted, of which approximately 102,500 are eligible under the scheme requirements. Payments under the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme commenced on 24 September and, to date, payments worth €247 million have issued to 98,938 applicants. The Disadvantaged Areas Scheme is co-funded by the National Exchequer and the EU; as the earliest date for payments under the scheme is not defined in EU Regulations, my Department aims to make these payments at the earliest possible date, subject to all necessary verifications being completed.

In respect of both the Single Payment Scheme and the Disadvantaged Areas Scheme, payments initially issue in respect of those cases confirmed clear for payment at that stage and then continue to issue as further cases subsequently become clear. Where applicants under either scheme have not been paid it is due to issues highlighted at validation, which require to be resolved by the given applicant, on foot of correspondence issued by my Department.