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Swans and boat on water

Tackling diffuse water pollution in England

The Environment Agency’s approach to tackling diffuse water pollution, such as run-off from agricultural land, has not, to date, proved value for money. The development of River Basin Management Plans now offers an opportunity to target work by the Agency and others to tackle this complex problem.

Published:
8 Jul 2010
Organic orchard

Defra’s organic agri-environment scheme

“Defra should learn from this scheme and get a lot better at putting credible measurement arrangements in place to demonstrate whether public funds are being used properly. It appears likely that Defra’s scheme helped to deliver environmental benefits by encouraging organic farming, but we can’t draw a similar conclusion on the land management measures and I would have expected a greater environmental benefit for the taxpayer’s funding contribution.”

Published:
31 Mar 2010
tractor

A second progress update on the administration of the Single Payment Scheme by the Rural Payments Agency

“This is the third time we have looked at the Single Payment Scheme and there are still significant issues to be resolved. There has been a serious lack of attention to the protection of taxpayers’ interests over the administration of the scheme.  There has been a lack of senior management ownership of the scheme in the Agency and DEFRA, even though the risks were previously highlighted by the Committee of Public Accounts.

 

“Previous assurances on overall progress in recovering overpayments from farmers proved optimistic and reflect a lack of reliable information on actual progress.  DEFRA should urgently address the risks to ongoing IT system support and the inaccuracy of the scheme’s data, explore alternative payment systems and resolve the ongoing management issues.”

 

Published:
15 Oct 2009
Report cover showing cows grazing in a meadow

The health of livestock and honeybees in England

“Defra eradicated outbreaks of Avian Influenza and Foot and Mouth Disease in 2007 before they could spread further. But Bovine Tuberculosis and the Varroa parasite continue to pose significant risks to the livelihoods of farmers and beekeepers. The Department could tackle disease more effectively by working with farmers and their vets to improve farm biosecurity, and by enforcing compulsory testing as well as encouraging beekeepers to register.”

Published:
4 Mar 2009
Report cover showing some flowers

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Management of Expenditure

“It is good news that the Department has recognised and is addressing its poor past performance on financial management. But there is still some way to go before we can feel confident that public money is being spent effectively and efficiently. The Department needs to maintain these first steps, if it is to cope in the tough financial environment reflected in the 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review.”

Published:
6 Mar 2008