With the final deadline to apply for the 2016 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) less than a fortnight away, the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) is urging farmers to apply as soon as possible before midnight on 10 June.
Farmers still to apply for BPS this year incur a 1% penalty for every working day it is received after the initial 16 May deadline. For those looking to apply for new entitlements from the national reserve, the penalty rate is 3%.
A range of support is on hand to help farmers still to apply including a dedicated Rural Services helpline 03000 200 301, five online support centres, various guidance videos and on-screen help as well as a useful ‘Hints and Tips’ document.
For those still wanting to submit on paper form, the last day to request one from the Rural Services helpline is Monday 6 June.
Online applicants can easily check their claim has been received by clicking on the ‘Apply for BPS’ screen on the Rural Payments service. Receipts are also being sent out for applications submitted by paper.
Claimants can still make certain changes; including adding, increasing the area or changing the ‘land use’ of a land parcel and increasing the number of entitlements they want to use, but a penalty may now apply.
Farmers can notify RPA of errors in their application without penalty at any time provided RPA has not already told them about it or they have had notice of an inspection. Claimants can find further information online at GOV.UK/rpa/bps2016 in the BPS 2016 scheme rules (Page 7).
The RPA will investigate all 2015 claim queries through a planned payment reconciliation process that will take place from June, once the 2016 application window closes.
Detailed support available until 10 June 2016
Online support centres
Until 10 June, five online support centres across England are open to support farmers - located in Reading, Newcastle, Workington, Carlisle and Exeter. Check online at www.gov.uk/guidance/bps-2016 for full opening hours of your local centre. Support is also available, by appointment only, at RPA’s Foss House office in York between 8.30am and 5pm.
Rural Services helpline
The Rural Services helpline 03000 200 301 is open weekdays between 8.30am to 5pm for help and advice.
Videos and on screen help
A range of helpful videos and documents designed to make the application process as easy as possible can be found on GOV.UK.
Helpful videos on the RPA YouTube channel include ‘Hints and Tips’, advice on changing land use and a general overview of how to apply online. To make the online process easy to follow, step by step onscreen help is available throughout the application process and this useful guidance can also be printed off.
’Hints and Tips’ document
RPA has taken the questions farmers and agents have asked as they applied for their 2016 BPS, and turned them into a helpful Hints and Tips document available at GOV.UK/rpa/bps2016
Planned BPS 2015 reconciliation process
The new Rural Payments service has been designed to increase the accuracy of payments.
In addition to Rural Payments working more smartly than previous systems, 2015 was the first year of the new CAP and BPS, which differs in a number of ways from its predecessor, the Single Payment Scheme, including new greening requirements.
So this year some farmers may see differences in their payments from last year.
The Rural Payments Agency will investigate all claim queries through a planned payment reconciliation process that will take place from June, once the 2016 application window closes.
Farmers who believe their payment is not correct should write into the agency so it can investigate, make any necessary adjustments and top up payments, rather than clawing back from farmers at a later date, as used to be the process.