I suppose that is why I made the point in my introductory comments about the positive impact that those schemes are having, so we do intend to continue to deliver that in the current financial year. That relates to the relocation of our headquarters. There are different recommendations. I think that you need to get into the country more and listen to the groups there. Has that been identified at HQ or Orchard House and what can be done to rectify it? I refer you to the section on DARD resources, which is on page 19 of the business plan. What sort of follow-up are we doing on those to see how they are doing?
My understanding, Robin, is that it goes through a panel process, which looks at the individual application. Are you saying that if the planned funding for England and Wales is not up to scratch, we could lose our funding? In addition, a lot of our actions will be delivered through the rural development programme, and I can also advise the Committee that lots of work is going on with that as well. Again, I would need to take that back to the Department and then, perhaps, write to the Committee with a formal update on where we are with it. Some , passenger trips were funded through the assisted rural travel scheme, 53, contacts were made under the Connecting Elderly Rural Isolated project and unemployed people were assisted through the Boost programme. That is the EU receipt coming in against that. That is because the business planning process is hierarchical.
However, as you know, these things take time. That seems to be bringing about businness improvement, which I accept is small, but we are seeing an improving picture on staff absenteeism.
Members will also be aware of the Going for Growth strategy and, in particular, the different recommendations that have been assigned to the Department. Goal 1, target 1 is on the Agri-Food Strategy Board’s actions coming from ‘Going for Growth’, and you said, Graeme, that the Executive’s responses will be “in the coming weeks”.
You have the target for that plan as green, and the report states:.
Business Plan Progress Report: DARD Briefing
I do not know where it is going, but it never comes back. Would it not be better for you to clearly llan that?
We wish you all the best. As you quite rightly say, the disallowance and the financial penalties that we incur have a constraining impact on our resources.
I know that it affected agents probably more than lots of other people. So, I will come back to you in writing on that. This has had a knock-on effect on the project timetable, and it is unlikely that the competitive dialogue process will commence in this financial year.
Read press releases, watch live and archived video Find out more. It is very difficult to achieve that.
Official Report (Hansard)
Those are the eradication of brucellosis in cattle and the various measures to tackle poverty and social and economic isolation. With regard to the rural White Paper action plan, the annual progress report was to go to the Executive and the stakeholder group, and they were to meet and discuss further actions and a revised action plan.
Some of the impacts are worth noting and are included in your packs. With respect, if you are listening to farmers on the ground, they feel that it is moving far too slowly and shows how little regard DARD really has for its industry. We appreciate that there was a change in style a number of years ago and that that has stuck this year. Can you address that for us?
As this is the year-end report, we have reported either green or red — achieved or not achieved. It is important to reflect the work that is being undertaken on that project to ensure that we mitigate the risk of disallowance and address the concerns that the EU has raised. Thank plann for your briefing. I know that the Veterinary Service has done a joint procurement, which has been very successful. For monitoring progress against the plan, members will be aware of the new style of report that was introduced during the previous financial year.
I appreciate your attendance at the Committee and that you answered our questions. Given the funding difficulties, I think that the task is ensuring that, when you lose an agrienvironment agreement, you bring in a replacement to maintain the hectarage level. We want to make sure that the amount of money, which is considerable, is doing its job. For example, what were the cost implications to the Department of referring the staff? I think it is time that we took a holistic approach.
We have tried to give the community groups a bit of training about how they should get the message out. I will look at that for you. We have also invested in the interaction between our departmental HR colleagues and staff to make sure that people get whatever they need to get back to work as quickly as possible. Are we talking about areas or towns that have not been looked at yet? Thank you very much for your presentation.
We are in the process of finalising the report, and it will be formally submitted to the Executive for consideration. We will be able to define in more detail the outcome against each of those targets.