With nearly half of all applications for Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) 2016 payments either in progress or submitted, the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) is calling all remaining eligible farmers in England to use the Bank Holiday to complete their applications well ahead of the 16 May deadline.
Latest figures show over 26,000 completed online applications for BPS 2016 have been submitted and more than 17,400 applications are in progress. The agency has also received a further 4,000 completed paper forms.
To date nearly 78,000 of BPS 2015 claims have been completed. In addition, a further 2,600 bridging payments have already been made. This means almost 80,600 farmers have received a payment.
Chief Executive of the RPA Mark Grimshaw said:
With just over two weeks 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 help is at hand for any farmer applying who wants it. Everyone who made a BPS 2015 claim has been sent ‘How to Claim’ guidance, there’s hints and tips on GOV.UK and our network of online support centres are open to give help.
Meanwhile, we are making good progress with 2015 bridging payments and are on track to pay all the remainder by the end of the week.
Agents can now also speak directly to a dedicated team via the 03000 200 301 helpline and there’s a 24/7 automated service for those who want to apply online for the first time. To set up an online application form applicants just need to call 03000 200 301 then key in their SBI number and contact details. Call times to the Rural Services helpline continue to fall.
Defra has given the RPA the resources it needs to get these payments into bank accounts as soon as possible. The RPA can also reassure farmers that the agency will investigate any BPS 2015 payment differences over the summer, through our routine reconciliation process. Where there is flexibility within the scheme rules, the agency will use it.
BPS 2016 support
The RPA has a range of new 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.
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 available at GOV.UK/rpa/bps2016.
It has been updated to include practical answers to some of the most frequently asked questions, including:
- The best web browsers for the Rural Payments service.
- What to do if land shows in the wrong region online.
- How to filter the ‘Land use’ screen so it is easier to make changes.
- How to claim on common-land grazing rights.
- What to do online when claiming land in dual use.
Active farmer declaration
BPS 2016 paper applicants are reminded to tick the ‘active farmer’ box before submitting their claim.
Adding land parcels
To help farmers and agents complete BPS 2016 applications they can email RPA for support with adding land parcels that they want to appear on their online claims.
Farmers should mark their emails ‘BPS 2016 add land’ in the subject headline of their email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Online support centres
There are 14 online support centres across the country open. During the bank holiday weekend all online support centres, with the exception of Hereford, Solihull and Cambridge, will be open on Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.