As many of you will be aware, the RPA (Rural Payments Agency) have now launched the 2017 Basic Payment Scheme application system on their Rural Payments Service.
However before starting the 2017 claim we are advising farmers to double check their claim statement for 2016. Claimants should check the remittance advice carefully and refer back to their 2016 claim to ensure that their payment has been made in full. We are finding that in some cases errors have been made during processing.
If a claimant believes that they have been underpaid, they should contact their agent or the RPA to raise their concerns and start a dialogue with the complaints resolution team in order to obtain any top-up payment and to ensure information is correct on the RPA system in preparation for the 2017 claim.
Outlined below are a few key facts to consider when applying for the Basic Payment Scheme in 2017:
- The deadline for BPS claim submissions is midnight on Monday 15th May 2017
- Prepopulated data should be double checked for every field parcel as some data is not feeding through from 2016
- Mapping of features still needs to be carried out on an RLE 1 form
- Land and entitlements transfers can now be completed online through the Rural Payments Service
- Active Farmer declarations need to be submitted again for 2017
- Young farmer evidence needs to be submitted again for 2017
- All applicants need to adhere to the Cross Compliance and Greening Rules to avoid any penalties
- Paper forms will be sent to applicants with no previous electronic communication with the RPA.
Recent studies have shown that BPS payments form on average over 5O% of farm incomes in England, which demonstrates the importance and financial reliance farmers place on the Basic Payment Scheme.
Given this, claimants should be prepared to spend considerable periods of time preparing their own BPS claims prior to the deadline or should consider using a professional to do this on their behalf or at least provide some advice.
Whether you are claiming 5 hectares or 500 hectares the same level of detail is needed to ensure that boundaries are correct, ineligible features are deducted, cropping codes correlate, claim areas match entitlements held to avoid over claims and the complex greening rules are adhered to.
BPS claimants should therefore give serious consideration to using an agent, in the same way they would an accountant or solicitor to provide peace of mind and ensure the safe receipt of such an important income source.
Looking further ahead it would appear that the final payment year for the current Basic Payment Scheme will be 2019. Applications will therefore close in May 2019 and the payment window will be open from December 2019 to June 2020.
This means farmers can expect BPS payments for 2017, 2018, 2019 before whatever new policy the Government decides on is introduced for 2020 and beyond. It is also looking more likely that any replacement scheme will have an increased environmental focus and farmers will need to adjust accordingly if they are to take advantage of any future government support scheme.