The latest information for farmers, landowners and rural businesses during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Read this page for regular updates.
Check this page regularly for updates on the contingency arrangements we’re making to support our customers.
13 January 2021
Bank helpline opening hours
We’re committed to maintain vital services for our customers. However, to safeguard our people during these exceptional times, we’ve had to reduce the bank helpline opening hours.
From Tuesday 13 January, it will be open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays between 9am and 2pm.
We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause and ask that you please bear with us during this time.
We will keep reviewing the situation and publish further updates when available.
We want to assure customers that we are continuing to deliver the range of services to agricultural and rural communities across the country while the majority of our people work from home.
We will look at what the lockdown restrictions mean for the Agency’s work and our customers in the coming weeks. When schemes open, we will publish further updates as necessary, including any contingency arrangements we may need to make to support you.
Following government guidance, our inspectors will continue with most inspection work to ensure that we meet our regulatory targets and do not cause any delay to payments. They will continue to follow our strict COVID-19 secure health and safety procedures (including social distancing and other approaches to reduce face to face contact) that we put in place last year and will carry out risk assessments before each inspection.
Staying safe outside your home - follow these principles to ensure that time spent outside your home is as safe as possible.
Construction and other outdoor work - guidance for people who work in or run outdoor working environments.
Vehicles – guidance for people who work in or from vehicles.
Factories, plants and warehouses – guidance for people who work in or run factories, plants and warehouses.
What you need to do
We’re committed to maintaining vital services for our customers, and have made changes to adapt to the current emergency situation.
In line with government coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance, we have closed the majority of our offices, and equipped our processing and helpline teams to carry on their important work from home. We are all fully focused on making vital payments to the rural community and helping customers submit their claims and applications.
To make sure you follow the government advice on social distancing, please do not visit or hand in any correspondence or supporting documents to any of our local offices.
You can continue to post correspondence or supporting documents but only to those offices listed below.
To make sure your documents get to us follow the advice below. We will continue to keep you up to date with any changes.
Support for the farming community
We work in partnership with Farming Help organisations to support their work to help the farming community through challenging times. If this affects you, please either contact them on 03000 111 999, visit their Farming Help website or call us on 03000 200 301.
Farm visits and inspections
Inspectors are following current Government advice and are adhering to social distancing rules at all times.
We will contact customers before a visit to explain the arrangements and to find out if there are any issues we need to be aware of, including vulnerability. Inspectors continue to maintain risk assessments when attending site visits to ensure the safety of customers and themselves.
How to submit your applications, claims, evidence and other supporting documents
See at a glance the different ways to submit applications, claims and documents to us.
The Rural Payments service is available and you should use this wherever possible.
It’s the quickest and most secure way for you to send your applications, claims and supporting documents to us, and it will help us to start processing your application or claim as quickly as possible.
Where there is no option to use the Rural Payments service or you are unable to access the online service, you currently have 2 options.
Option 1: use email
You can email us at email@example.com where the guidance confirms there is an existing email service. We recommend you use this.
When you email us make sure you include the name of the scheme in the subject heading, for example ‘Countryside Stewardship Mid Tier query’. This will help your email get to the right department quickly.
Remember, we can only accept emails from email addresses that are registered in the Rural Payments service.
It’s important (especially in these challenging times) that we have your most up-to-date personal and business contact details. We may contact you by email or telephone, so check your details in the Rural Payments service, and update them or register if necessary.
Also, please make sure your permission levels for CS and BPS are set and are correct. You can find more information about how to do this in our blog.
It’s a good idea to regularly check your spam or junk email folder so you don’t miss important emails that we’ve sent to you. And, read our Be aware of fraud section as we are aware of coronavirus (COVID-19) related scams.
Option 2: use post
If there’s no existing email service and you would normally post something to us, you should continue to use the post.
However, we understand that the Royal Mail has indicated that it’s likely some areas of the country will experience some level of disruption due to coronavirus(COVID-19) related absences at local mail centres or delivery offices. If you need to post documents to us, we would encourage you to do so as soon as you can.
If you’re unable to get online or post a paper application form, paper claim form, or supporting documents to us before the application or claim deadlines, please call our helpline on 03000 200 301.
Where the person with the correct permissions is not able to sign any forms, due to coronavirus (COVID-19) related issues, this can be done by someone else and a note advising us of this is clearly shown either on the front of the document or next to the signature box. We will verify the signature before making any payments to you.
Please do not bring any documents to our offices (even if they are listed as accepting postal deliveries). We’re unable to accept correspondence or documents in person.
You can use the Rural Payments service to transfer BPS entitlements to someone else, transfer land to someone else, and remove land from your holding. This is the quickest and best way to tell us about changes. Or you can add land by email.
If you need to submit an RLE1 form to us, you can now do this electronically, by email, to tell us about entitlement transfers, land transfers and land changes.
You can download an RLE1 form, complete it electronically following the RLE1 guidance, and return it to us as a PDF email attachment.
We understand that organic certification bodies are making arrangements to issue certification and conversion documents where they are unable to make site visits.
We will accept all such documents in whatever format the organic body issues them in, where it’s necessary to support BPS and CS applications, and CS and ES claims.
Please email a copy of any certificates to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re unable to get online, you can post a copy to us.
Updates on rural payments, grants and services
Countryside Stewardship capital claims
If you have problems collecting all the evidence for your capital claim due to coronavirus (COVID-19) illness or restrictions, please do all you can to submit your claim, making it clear that your evidence is missing due to coronavirus (COVID-19). Please continue to collect the evidence as soon as you are able to do so, and keep hold of it as we’ll ask for it at a later date.
Countryside Stewardship: extension to capital agreements
We are offering an extension of one year to all customers with capital agreements that started after 1 April 2018 or in 2019 for:
- Hedgerows and Boundaries grant
- Woodland creation, Woodland tree health, Woodland management plan,
- PA1, PA2 and PA3
- Water capital grants
- Historic Buildings Restoration grants
For agreements that started in 2020, the claim period remains the same, but this will be reviewed.
Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) - Growth Programme
Read Questions and Answers on coronavirus (COVID-19) Response for the most common questions about arrangements for delivering existing RDPE Growth programme projects and for applications under the Round 3 call.
British Cattle Movement Service: requesting cattle passport amendments
Following the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak we temporarily asked you to request cattle passport amendments by email.
If possible, and restrictions allow, please now return to the original process for requesting cattle passport amendments
However, we can still accept these by email if you are unable to post them.
Who we will contact
We want to reach as many customers as possible during these challenging times. Therefore, we are sending reminders to more of our BPS and CS contacts we hold in the Rural Payment service who have ‘submit’ or ‘full’ permissions.
- Customers or their agents must hold ‘submit’ and ‘full’ business permissions
- An agent with ‘full’ business or ‘submit’ permissions supersedes a customer with ‘full’ or ‘submit’ business permissions
- If multiple agents have ‘submit’ or ‘full’ permissions, the agent with ‘full’ business permission supersedes those with ‘submit’
- If multiple agents have ‘full business’ permissions, they all receive any communications
- If there is no agent with ‘full’ business permission, but there are multiple agents with ‘submit’ permissions, they will all receive any communications
- All agents must have an email address registered in the Rural Payments service
- If no agents fit the above criteria, the same criteria will be used against the remaining people with permissions.
You need to be certain that any correspondence or contact you receive from us is genuine as there are coronavirus (COVID-19) related scams from people claiming to be from other government departments. Please read the Be aware of fraud section below, which will help you to protect yourself.
Where there is no email option available, use the following addresses for anything urgent
Countryside Stewardship customers
Rural Payments Agency
PO Box 324
Basic Payment Scheme customers and all RLE1 forms
Rural Payments Agency
PO Box 352
Environmental Stewardship (ES) customers
You can find details of address on the environmental stewardship page.
Rural Payments Agency
British Cattle Movement Service
How to keep up to date
We’re continuing to monitor and review our processes based on government advice and will update our customers if things change.
You can sign up to get email alerts when information changes on the Rural Payments Agency pages.
You can also follow us on:
Be aware of fraud
In these challenging times, fraudsters will try to take advantage. We are aware of coronavirus (COVID-19) related scams from people claiming to be from other government departments, and we want to remind you to remain vigilant.
We will not call you or send you emails or texts asking you to confirm your personal details or payment information.
- Never discuss your bank account details with someone you do not know
- We will not ask you to make a payment over the phone
- Delete any emails or texts you do not believe are genuine
- Do not open any links unless from our main email addresses:
- Be cautious about what information you share externally, particularly on social media
If you suspect an attempted fraud or feel you have been the subject of fraud, you can contact:
- RPA’s Fraud Referral Team on 0800 347 347 or FraudInConfidence@rpa.gov.uk
- Action Fraud (the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cyber-crime) on 0300 123 2040