Horse owners who claim subsidies for their paddocks from the single payment scheme (SPS) may be about to lose cash under Europe-wide changes.

A European Union review of the scheme last November has allowed member states to change the minimum size of holding eligible for the SPS from 2010. The current minimum is 0.3ha.

The Welsh Assembly Government will increase the minimum holding to one hectare (2.5 acres) or a €100 (£92) claim, which will mean 117 claimants will no longer be eligible. Northern Ireland is still deciding, and the Scottish government will leave the minimum at 0.3ha.

Defra has not yet announced what the minimum will be in England, but a leaflet for claimants has indicated the cut-off point will be between 1-5ha (2.5-12 acres), or a minimum payment value of €100-€200 (£92-£185).

A Defra spokesman told H&H it would consult on the changes later in the year and declined to comment further at this stage.

Read this news story in full in the current issue of Horse & Hound (9 April, ’09)