Farmers Weekly business expert Ashley Lilley gives advice on claiming the new Basic Payment Scheme online.
Q: I understand the new Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) will be online only, what do I need to do? Can I assume all my details on the online system will be correct? Also, I understand that if I have non-farming business interests, I won’t be able to claim SPS, is that correct?
A: The RPA is rolling out BPS registration online. Farmers will be contacted by letter in the coming weeks with a telephone number and instructions on how to access the online rural payments system.
Access to the new system is via the Gov.uk online system. Before registering you must have an active email account and email address. Agents and customers need to register as individuals through one of two routes:
The first is through Gov.uk Verify, which provides identity assurance through third-party companies Experian and Digi-Identity.
Alternatively, existing RPA customers can register directly through the RPA and be given a registration code and reference number to allow them to access rural payments.
Using the second route, when you call the RPA you will be asked some security questions based on previous claimant details. You also need your producer identifier (PI) number. These were issued when SPS was introduced. If you don’t know your PI, call the RPA helpline, quoting your single business identifier (SBI) number.
You will then be sent by email a six-digit access code which needs to be activated online within 12 hours of receipt. The software will require further updates so you will have to revisit the website to add information and to complete your claim before 15 May.
Once registered you can name any adviser or consultant to help you and specify the level of authority you want to give them. This is a new system, so even if your adviser is the same as under the old system, you need to inform the RPA of their details again.
You cannot assume all your details on the online system will be correct. Check your 2014 SPS payment against your claim; check the online maps against the latest Rural Land Registry maps you have; and check entitlement transfers if you have transferred in or out entitlements in the past 12 months.
Regarding non-farming business interests, if you are an owner/operator of a business on the “negative list” (of which permanent sports and recreational grounds are more likely to be a problem) you will be required to make a self-declaration as part of the 2015 BPS application process.
If you are then excluded, you can appeal. To be readmitted, at least one of the following must apply:
- Direct payments must be at least 5% of total receipts obtained from non-agricultural activities
- Agricultural activities are “not insignificant” – total receipts from agricultural activities must be at least 40% of total receipts for the business
- The “principal business or company objects consist of exercising an agricultural activity”.This is now defined as being at least 36ha.
Verifiable evidence such as a declaration from an accountant or similar will be needed.
The information provided in these articles does not constitute definitive professional advice and is provided for general information purposes only.
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