Basic payment scheme

Basic Payment Scheme

The best laid plans often go astray. The Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) online application system partially rolled out from December has been rolled back up and will not be available this year.

 

The application deadline for the BPS has been delayed until 15 June. However apart from the applications for subsidy, the young farmer top-up and payment from the national reserve, the key date at the moment for the occupation of land remains 15 May. The latest date for transfer of entitlements is also currently 15 May but there is pressure to delay this to 15 June.

Defra has hurried out a draft of the new paper application the BP5. Land and entitlement transfers will again require submission of the familiar RLE1.

Other than a few tiny niggles, instructions are now complete with clarification of several ambiguities such as “fallow buffer strip” (a single description covering two EFA options). This now clearly relates to buffer strips with a fallow cover. A whole raft of agricultural descriptions have now been removed leaving just a few relevant choices. It might, however, be worth checking that options entered in good faith as eligible areas on the online application such as “grazed woodland and parkland”, “natural tracks and paths” and “rivers and streams 1” (boundary water courses under 4m) are treated as eligible land on the prepopulated application. The first list of land types issued just before the change of policy stated that these options should be used to describe ineligible land.

It is vital that all claimants register for the new scheme. The simplest method, for those registered on the old system, remains a telephone call to 03000 200 301 with the last application, entitlement statement, payment statement and bank details to hand. You will also need an email address but this can be a friend or agent but warn them first since it will need activating within 12 hours of receipt. In the longer term any user of government systems will need to register via gov.uk verify (https://www.ruralpayments.service.gov.uk/). Once registration is complete you can pass the task on by searching for an agent such as “Savills” and changing the permission levels for the four aspects of the scheme as is appropriate.

Going forward there will be two ways to make an application in 2015:

1. Maps and prepopulated forms will be emailed or sent to all farmers or agents where the farm is known to be potentially eligible for subsidy. It is expected that this will occur from about 1 April. It is intended that any data already entered into the online system will be transferred to the pre-populated application. Any boundary changes or ineligible features should be marked on the map and returned with an RLE 1. In-field divisions such as split fields, hedges, buffer strips do not need to be drawn on the map even if used to meet the EFA.

a. Where there is no greening requirement the application is then complete.

b. Where there is a greening requirement the ‘field use’ needs to be coded and greening features described.

2. For agents and those farmers with particularly large and complex claims there will be access to a different online system. This system has been used in several countries and is therefore tested. However, it is similar to a more conventional computer package like Gatekeeper so will require familiarisation. Any data already entered online is already recoded on this system. If it does work as is expected there is less chance of a payment delay, much less chance of error and workload will be reduced next year.

It remains the case that Ecological Focus Area (EFA) features need only be added where required to meet the EFA or the Crop Diversification requirement. Thus, there is no need to separate grass margins around arable fields or game cover if they are not needed for the EFA. Fields should be split on the application where there are two crop uses but a sketch map is not needed. Stewardship margins can be included as part of the crop without separation.

If claiming for any subsidy ‘all agricultural land’ and ‘all land in a rural development programme’, must be shown on the form. Omission from the form does not allow you to avoid a cross compliance or greening liability.

Common Land

While not related to the Basic Payment Scheme application, a new important opportunity has arisen for some farmers claiming subsidy on common land. To date those claiming subsidy on common land were awarded entitlements and payments, based on the proportion of the grazing rights held against the number associated with the common. Following a recent court ruling it has been determined that the entitlements awarded should be based on the proportion of the total entitlements claimed. For some commoners there could be considerable sums due, for each year from 2005. 

 
 

Key contacts

Alex Bragg

Alex Bragg

Associate Director
Food & Farming

Savills Cambridge

+44 (0) 1223 347 206

+44 (0) 1223 347 206