Environmental Stewardship: how to get paid under an agreement

As an Entry Level Stewardship (ELS), Uplands ELS, Organic ELS or Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) agreement holder, or authorised agent, find out how to claim for payment.

Making a claim

Agreement holders should have received a 2017 Environmental Stewardship (ES) claim form by the end of March 2017. If you haven’t received it, contact Natural England on 0300 060 0011 to request another copy.

The claim form has been pre-populated with details of the revenue options on your current ES agreement. If you’ve notified the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) about a mapping change using an RLE1 form and these changes aren’t shown in annex 1 or 2, make a note of these changes in section 4 of the claim form.

Return your claim form by:

  • post using the Natural England office address shown in the letter sent with your claim form
  • sending a scanned copy to the email address shown in the letter sent with your claim form
  • delivering it by hand to any Natural England office

Natural England may contact you after receiving your claim:

  • if you’ve missed any information that you need to provide
  • with details of penalties that may be applied if you submitted your claim late

Natural England will aim to pay claims by:

  • December 2017 for partial payments
  • June 2018 for end of year payments

Agreements with rotational arable options

Section 3 of the 2017 claim form shows details of any rotational arable options (RAO) that are part of your agreement. If there isn’t any data in this section then you don’t have any RAO in your agreement.

You should add details about the current cropping year (ie from autumn 2016 to harvest 2017), except for options including over winter stubbles.

For over-winter stubble options, you need to provide details of where these will be located in autumn/winter 2017/2018. If you don’t yet know the location of these options, make sure you inform Natural England by letter or email by 1 September 2017.

You don’t need to state where the option will be if your agreement ends before options are due to start.

Find out more about the requirements for each RAO (PDF, 38.3KB, 2 pages) .

Changing your claim

You can amend your claim after you’ve submitted a claim form by writing to Natural England (for example if you’ve not been able to carry out the management requested, or because of land being transferred in or out of the agreement).

Natural England won’t apply a late claim penalty if they receive your change on or before 31 May 2017. After this date, Natural England will still accept changes until 9 June 2017, however, late claim penalties may be applied to the area that has been amended.

Additional important information about ES claims

Changes to agreements

The completion of the ES claim form does not replace the requirement to notify Natural England of any changes to an agreement.

Agreement holders should refer to the relevant ES handbook for full details of the requirements and deadlines for:

  • notifications
  • amendment requests for land transfers
  • amendments and derogations

Penalties may be incurred for failure to meet the requirements as set out in the handbook.

See change, transfer or close your agreement for more information.

Claim deadline and late claim penalties

Agreement holders should submit their ES claim form as soon as possible to arrive before midnight on 15 May 2017 to avoid any loss of payments.

Agreement holders can still submit their claim form to arrive by midnight on 9 June 2017, but there will be a 1% late claim penalty applied to each working day the claim is late. Amendments may also be submitted to arrive by midnight on 9 June 2017 with a late claim penalty applied as above to the amendment.


Agreement holders currently transferring all or part of their agreement land should telephone Natural England on 0300 060 0011.

Getting paid

ES agreements are managed by Natural England. Natural England will send applicants the relevant claim forms when appropriate.

The RPA will manage and make payments directly into their bank account. If applicants have not yet provided their bank details, contact the RPA on 03000 200 301 or email: and request a customer registration form.

Agreement holders who fail to meet the terms of their agreement may not be paid.

Agreement holders who are not registered for VAT with HM Revenue and Customs will need a VAT declaration form.

Other forms needed to support all or part of ES agreements.

Payment for capital works: infrastructure and equipment improvements

Natural England will send agreement holders a capital works claim form. Claims can be made throughout the year under the Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) agreement when work is completed, as specified in their agreement. Agreement holders can also make HLS claims for capital works for educational access visits.

Revenue payments

Existing ES agreement holders will be required to submit a claim form to arrive by 15 May 2017, in order to receive their scheduled ES payments.

Agreement holders must have met the terms of their ELS, OELS or HLS agreement to receive payment. Check details in the relevant handbook.


Refer to the relevant handbook from when the agreement started.

Handbook 1: agreement start dates from 1 February 2006 to 1 September 2008

ELS handbook:

OELS handbook:

HLS handbook

Handbook 2: agreement start dates from 1 October 2008 to 1 January 2010

ELS handbook:

OELS handbook:

HLS handbook:

Handbook 3: agreement start dates from 1 February 2010 to 1 December 2012

ELS handbook:

OELS handbook:

HLS handbook:

Handbook 4: agreement start dates from 1 January 2013 to 1 December 2014

Changes to payment timings from 1 January 2015

From 2015 onwards all new agri-environment agreements will have a single start date of 1 January in every year.

The payment periods for all current ES agreements would be adjusted to a January to December year, eg a current agreement starting on 1 May and ending 30 April would be adjusted so that the payment period was January to December.

This will not affect the total amount agreement holders are due to receive under their agreement. However, timing and value of individual payments may differ from the original schedule in their agreement. See uniform start dates: questions and answers (PDF, 78.1KB, 8 pages) for further details.

In late 2014 Natural England wrote to all agreement holders with their new payment schedule. Use the payment timing tool (MS Excel Spreadsheet, 417KB) to check how payment timings will be affected.

For more information contact Natural England on telephone: 0300 060 3900 or

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has a responsibility to make sure that its schemes are delivered in accordance with EU law and the taxpayer is protected. The change to the timing of ES payments from 2015 onwards will avoid financial penalties being imposed by the European Commission if the UK does not adopt a single start date approach.

Who to contact

Rural Payments helpline: Telephone 03000 200 301

Natural England customer services: Telephone 0300 060 0011

Published 11 September 2014
Last updated 7 March 2016 + show all updates
  1. Added information about claiming a payment in 2016.
  2. Page updated with information for 2016 claims.
  3. Updated information about declaring the location of rotational arable options.
  4. Change to how to make a claim in 2015.
  5. claim deadline extended by 1 month to 15 June
  6. First published.