Farmers urged to submit their claims in good time.
With just under one week to go until the deadline for 2016 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) applications, the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) is urging all remaining eligible farmers in England to complete their claim submissions before the midnight 16 May deadline.
English farmers are on track to get their 2016 applications in on time, and three quarters (75%) of BPS 2016 applications have already been submitted or are in progress.
There are no plans to change the deadline because it could lead to unnecessary delays in payments being made. Therefore the RPA is reminding everyone, including those with queries on their 2015 claim, to get this year’s application submitted before midnight on Monday 16 May.
The RPA is working hard to ensure everyone is supported in submitting their 2016 application before the deadline. It has a full package of support available, including:
- 14 online support centres around the country offering face-to-face support – all centres will be open until midnight on deadline day
- a dedicated Rural Services helpline 03000 200 301 – open weekdays 8.30am to 5pm and at the weekend from 9am to 12.30pm
- updated guidance and hints and tips available on the BPS 2016 page on GOV.UK
- a range of videos providing help and support on the RPA YouTube channel
There will also be a BPS 2016 Twitter Q&A session – #AskRPA – on Thursday 12 May from 6pm to support farmers in their applications.
Latest figures show over 54,600 completed online applications for BPS 2016 have been submitted and more than 11,700 applications are in progress. RPA has also received a further 8,380 completed paper forms.
To date 79,122 (91%) of BPS 2015 claims have been completed. Nearly all farmers have now received either a full or bridging payment on their 2015 BPS claim.
Chief Executive of the RPA Mark Grimshaw said:
With less than one week to go until the 2016 deadline, we are urging farmers who have not yet started or submitted their application for this year’s BPS not to leave it to the last minute.
The Rural Payments service is working and a full package of support is available for any farmer applying who wants it – online, over the telephone and in person.
This includes help from the Rural Services helpline – which has extra opening hours at the weekend – and our network of online support centres which will also be open until midnight on deadline day.
The RPA is urging farmers, who may have an outstanding query or be waiting for the balance of their 2015 payment, to still apply using the position on the ground at 16 May 2016.
Applications should be completed and submitted by midnight 16 May, even if farmers have an outstanding query or are waiting for the balance of their 2015 payment.
As in previous years, any farmers with concerns about their BPS 2015 payment or claim details held by RPA should write or email. The RPA will investigate any payment differences and make adjustments over the summer, through routine reconciliation.
Where there is flexibility under the scheme rules, the agency will use it, so customers are not penalised unnecessarily for claiming on what they believe to be correct for BPS 2016.
BPS 2016 support
The RPA has a range of support features available to help remaining applicants submit their 2016 claims on time. These include a new ‘Hints and Tips’ video and guidance, a 24/7 automated service for applicants who have a paper application but want to apply online for first time, and the option for agents to speak directly to a dedicated team.
Online support centres
There are 14 online support centres open across the country.
Please check online at GOV.UK/guidance/bps-2016 for full opening hours of your local centre. On 16 May – the last day for applying without penalty – they will be open until midnight. It is possible to walk in during the week but appointments are required at the weekends.
Rural Services helpline
Applicants can call the Rural Services helpline 03000 200 301, which is open weekdays 8.30am to 5pm and at the weekend from 9am to 12.30pm for help and advice including:
- 24/7 automated service for customers wanting to apply online rather than paper
- a dedicated support line for agents
Videos and onscreen help
A range of helpful videos and documents designed to make the application process as easy as possible can be found on the BPS 2016 page on GOV.UK.
There’s also a new ‘hints and tips’ video on the RPA YouTube channel. Other videos include advice on transferring land, transferring entitlements, 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.
Updated ‘Hints and Tips’ document
RPA is taking the questions farmers and agents are asking as they apply for their 2016 BPS, and turning them into a regularly updated helpful Hints and Tips document.
It has been updated to include practical answers to some of the most frequently asked questions, including:
- transferring or removing land parcels for tenants
- what to do if a land parcel on the land use table shows as 0.0000
- how to find out if your online application has submitted successfully
- eligibility on natural surface tracks and grass strips
Active farmer declaration
BPS 2016 paper applicants are reminded to tick the ‘active farmer’ box before submitting their claim.
Declaring agricultural land
Applicants are reminded to declare all of the agricultural land on their holding when they apply. You can apply for BPS on as much of your eligible land as you want to – you don’t need to match the area you apply for with the number of entitlements you hold.
There is no penalty if the eligible area of your holding you apply for is greater than the number of entitlements you actually hold. We will work out your payment based on the lower figure.
Stewardship claim deadline
All Environmental Stewardship and Countryside Stewardship claims need to be submitted to Natural England by the 16 May to avoid a penalty. Similar to last year the claim forms can also be handed in at RPA drop in centres.
BPS key dates
- Farmers will be able to make changes to their already submitted claim until 31 May without incurring any penalties.
- For those farmers who have not submitted their claim by the 16 May deadline, applications can still be received until midnight on 10 June though they will lose 1% of the value of their claim for every working day after the 16 May deadline their form arrives at the RPA.
- For farmers looking to apply for new entitlements from the national reserve, applications made after 16 May will lose 3% for every working day.