2016 BPS payments – what you need to know

With the BPS 2016 payment window opening on 1 December, Alice De Soer from the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV) explains those payments and gives some planning tips for BPS 2017.

When am I likely to receive my BPS 2016 payment?

Payments began on 1 December and the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has said it will pay at least 90% of claimants (approximately 78,300 out of a total of around 87,000) by 31 December 2016 and 93% by 31 March 2017. The payment window closes on 30 June 2017.

alice de soerAlice de Soer
Central Association of Agricultural Valuers

The RPA posted a leaflet, An update on the Basic Payment Scheme, to all BPS 2016 claimants last week.

It said that “some types of claims are more complicated” and therefore take longer for the RPA to validate.

The “more complicated” claims usually include those where there’s been an inspection (whether physical or remote sensing), common land and cross-border. Some of these types of claimant may not receive a payment by 31 December 2016.

How will I know if I’m not going to receive my payment by 31 December 2016?

You’re unlikely to know this until January 2017 when the RPA should contact you to give more information about progress with your claim and tell you whether it’s likely your payment will be made before or after March 2017. You should also then be able to discuss your claim with a RPA caseworker.

How can I track my BPS 2016 claim’s progress?

Whether you applied online or used a paper BP5 form, your claim’s progress can be tracked using the Rural Payments Service (https://www.ruralpayments.service.gov.uk) (click “Applications” and “Apply for BPS” to view its status).

“Claim validation” means the RPA’s making the main checks on your claim.

“Final checking” should show when the final checks are being done to calculate the value of your claim.

The final status should be “Preparing for payment”, which should appear when the RPA has completed its checks and your claim’s ready to be sent over to the separate payment system.

two men at computer

© Monkey Business Images/REX Shutterstock

What paperwork should I receive once I’ve been paid?

You should receive a remittance advice shortly after your payment. The RPA should start posting out claim statements from February 2017.

Unfortunately, the claim statement won’t give a land parcel breakdown so you’ll need to look at your land and entitlements online to check the payment reflects the correct eligible area and number of entitlements.

Will I receive a BPS 2016 entitlements statement?

No, the RPA no longer sends entitlements statements. Instead, improvements are being made to the online “View entitlements” screens on the Rural Payments service.

When available, that should allow you to view the entitlements held for a particular scheme year, as well as entitlements transfers you’ve done and any entitlements leases in place.

Checking BPS 2016 payments

  • Read the guidance on calculating payments in the BPS 2016 scheme rules
  • Check your claim statement
  • Check your eligible land and number of entitlements online
  • If you think your payment may be incorrect, email or write to the RPA

Until the new screens are available, you can check entitlements by looking at your “Business summary” which can be found from your “Business overview” screen.

If I was inspected (either physically or by remote sensing), will I receive an inspection report?

Yes. For BPS 2015, the RPA was unable to make inspection reports available, but improvements have been made for BPS 2016 and inspection reports are being sent out.

How is the BPS 2016 payment calculated?

Guidance is available in the BPS 2016 scheme rules handbook, ‘Payments, Reductions and Penalties’ (page 99) at www.gov.uk/guidance/bps-2016.

The BPS 2016 entitlement values are: Non-SDA €175.27, SDA €174.01 and SDA moorland €45.97.

The greening payment rates are: Non-SDA €77.71, SDA €77.15 and €20.39. The exchange rate applicable is €1 = £0.85228 (for 2015 it was €1 = £0.73129).

The financial discipline mechanism reduction made to BPS 2016 payments more than €2,000 is 1.353905%.

When should a penalty be applied for an ‘over-claim’?

An “over-claim” occurs if you try to claim on land that isn’t eligible for BPS.

The land could be ineligible because: it’s not agricultural land (arable, permanent grassland or permanent crops); it wasn’t primarily used for an “agricultural activity” throughout 2016 (either agricultural production or maintaining it in a state suitable for cultivation or grazing); and/or it wasn’t “at your disposal” on 16 May 2016.

You can include more eligible land on your claim than the number of entitlements you hold. The RPA will activate as many entitlements for payment matched by eligible land. That is not an “over-claim”.

Some farmers may have seen “over-claim” penalties applied to their BPS 2015 payment – this occurred where the RPA found a smaller area of eligible land than declared on the claim.

This may not have been correct if the RPA’s system didn’t hold up-to-date land information as eligible land may have shown as ineligible.

Use the online land viewer to check your maps are correct (an exclamation mark should show where there’s mapping work the RPA hasn’t completed yet).

The way that over-declaration penalties are calculated for BPS 2016 has changed. Where there is an over-claim of more than two hectares or 3%, the area over-claimed is multiplied by 1.5 instead of 2.

There’s also a new “yellow card” system, which means a first-time offender will have their penalty rate halved to 0.75.

What if my BPS 2016 payment seems to be incorrect?

The RPA makes a payment based on the “control data” it holds on its system (so the entitlements, land and claimant eligibility information).

If your BPS 2015 payment didn’t seem to be correct, check your eligible land and entitlements online to ensure that information has been correctly updated.

If that information has not been updated, your BPS 2016 payment may be based on the eligible land and entitlements information shown. If you think your payment isn’t correct, email (ruralpayments@defra.gsi.gov.uk) or write to the RPA explaining what you think the issue may be.

I’ve sent an RLE1 form requesting mapping changes, will the RPA confirm these changes?

No. The RPA no longer sends notifications to confirm that a mapping change to your land has been completed.

Check your land online using the Rural Payments service. If an exclamation mark shows next to a land parcel that means there’s mapping update work the RPA hasn’t completed yet.

There are some mapping updates the RPA does without you requesting them. In January 2017, the RPA will be updating your maps with the latest information from Ordnance Survey and aerial photography.

The RPA hopes to complete this work before the BPS 2017 application window opens.

I’d like to prepare for my BPS 2017 application. Can I transfer land and entitlements online now?

Not yet. The functionality to transfer land and entitlements online was disabled after 16 May 2016 deadline to allow the RPA to validate BPS 2016 claims.

You should be able to transfer land again from early February 2017 and entitlements from around mid-February.

While it’s still possible to submit a paper RLE1 form to transfer entitlements, it’s preferable to wait for the online functionality to be available again as the transfer should be instant and confirmed straightaway.

All entitlements transfers are now confirmed electronically in the “Messages” area on the Rural Payments service.

Have there been any changes to the ‘greening’ rules for BPS 2017?

No. The “greening” rules remain the same as for BPS 2016 and will be published in the BPS 2017 scheme rules booklet at www.gov.uk/guidance/bps-2017 in early 2017.

Will I be able to apply online for BPS 2017?

Yes. Around 80% of BPS 2016 applications were submitted online. If you applied for BPS 2016 using a paper BP5 form and didn’t use an agent to submit it for you, you should receive a paper BP5 form for BPS 2017.

But you should be able to contact the RPA to switch from paper to online if you’d prefer to submit your application online.