Magazine article Public Finance

Round-Up

Magazine article Public Finance

Round-Up

Article excerpt

* The Public Accounts Committee has again lambasted the Rural Payments Agency for its poor implementation of the Single Payment Scheme for farmers. A report published on July 15 found that almost 20,000 farmers' entitlements were calculated incorrectly during 2005 and 2006, with overpayments totalling £37m. PAC chair Edward Leigh said the agency's failings could lead the European Commission to fine the government hundreds of millions of pounds. 'Restoring farmers' confidence will depend on the agency improving its business processes and IT systems to the point where it can process claims efficiently and promptly and tell farmers when they are likely to be paid.'

* Proposed changes to planning regulations will give councils more scope to refuse out-of-town developments that threaten the survival of high streets and small shops, Communities Secretary Hazel Blears has said. The changes to Planning Policy Statement 6, which governs town centre planning, encourage planners to prioritise high-street developments. A tougher impact test Is being developed to help councils prevent developments that would detract from town centre investment. Blears said: 'I want to see our town centres and independent shops busy and thriving, and I'm committed to helping defend their future.'

* Ministers and the Association of British Insurers have reached an agreement to ensure that flood insurance remains widely available. The deal also outlines actions both the government and the industry will take over the long term, including better understanding of flood risk and a governmentled flood prevention strategy. Floods minister Phil Woolas said it was vital that people were able to insure their homes and businesses against flood risk. Stephen Haddrill, the ABI's director general, added: 'We are pleased that the government recognises that a long-term investment strategy, adequately funded, is the best way to manage the growing flood threat. …

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