BPS 2016: Essential advice for English claimants

With just over three weeks until the BPS 2016 deadline, Alice De Soer from the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV) gives tips about how to deal with some of the common issues English claimants are encountering.

How can I apply for BPS in 2016?

Either apply online using the Rural Payments service or complete a paper BP5 form. Around 20,000 farmers were automatically sent a paper BP5 form.

If you haven’t received one, check online as it’s likely you have an online application available.

If you’d prefer paper, request a BP5 form by phoning the RPA (03000 200 301).

That deactivates your online application because only one application can be “live”. Submit your application by midnight on Monday 16 May to avoid late claim penalties.

Alice de Soer is from the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV)

I’ve received a paper BP5 form but would like to apply online, how do I do this?

Phone the RPA (03000 200 301) to request your online application is activated. That deactivates your paper BP5 form.

See also: How to complete an online claim for BPS 2016 in England

My BPS 2015 payment is incorrect, how do I complete my BPS 2016 application?

Include your land as at 16 May 2016 to the best of your ability, ensuring the areas and land use codes given reflect the correct position on the ground. Email (ruralpayments@defra.gsi.gov.uk) or write to the RPA (Rural Payments, PO Box 352, Worksop S80 9FG) to raise any issues with your BPS 2015 payment (or claim statement).

Use the heading “BPS 2015 payment”. It’s unlikely the RPA will respond prior to the 16 May 2016 BPS application deadline.

An over-declaration penalty has been applied to my BPS 2015 payment, what should I do?

An over-declaration penalty should only be applied if the RPA has found less eligible land than was included in your BPS 2015 application.

This penalty may have been applied incorrectly. Complete your BPS 2016 application including the correct eligible (and ineligible) land areas as at 16 May 2016 and email or write to the RPA to identify the over-declaration penalty issue.

A greening reduction has been applied to my BPS 2015 payment, what should I do?

You may have met the greening requirements for BPS 2015 and this reduction could have been applied incorrectly.

Carefully check your crop diversification and Ecological Focus Area (EFA) calculations for your BPS 2016 application to ensure you’re meeting the greening requirements correctly.

I haven’t received my BPS 2015 payment, how do I complete my BPS 2016 application?

Complete your BPS 2016 application including your land as at 16 May 2016 to the best of your ability, ensuring the areas and land use codes given reflect the correct position on the ground. This also applies if you were inspected in 2015 but haven’t had the inspection results yet.

The wrong number of entitlements is showing online, what should I do?

Email or write to the RPA to let them know. Declare your land and eligible areas as at 16 May 2016. The RPA should make any necessary updates so the correct number of entitlements are used against the eligible land you declare on your BPS 2016 application.

My entitlements have the wrong ‘use by’ year, what should I do?

The “use by” year should be 2017 for entitlements claimed for BPS 2015. However, sometimes the “use by” year may show incorrectly. If you’ve received your BPS 2015 payment, but some of your entitlements haven’t been activated for payment, they will show a 2016 “use by year”.

This may be because the RPA needs to make an adjustment to your payment and it should be updated to 2017 once that’s done. If you haven’t received your BPS 2015 payment, your entitlements will show a 2015 “use by” year, but the RPA should update that once your payment is made.

I’ve transferred entitlements online, but it’s not updating the number shown?

Usually, an online entitlements transfer is instant, but if you haven’t received your BPS 2015 payment, the entitlements transfer is put on hold by the RPA and won’t be completed until you’re paid.

What’s the deadline for transferring land or entitlements for BPS 2016 claims?

In England, it’s midnight on Monday 16 May. In Wales, it’s different for entitlements transfers and the deadline is Tuesday 3 May. The deadline for entitlements transfers in Scotland has already passed and was 4 April.

I sent an RLE1 form with my 2015 BPS application, but exclamation marks aren’t showing?

If a mapping change requested in 2015 has not yet been completed by the RPA, an exclamation mark icon should show next to the land parcels on your online maps. If no exclamation mark icon is showing, let the RPA know. You shouldn’t send in another RLE1 form if you’ve already sent one.

My online maps seem to be incorrect, what should I do?

Update columns C7 (part field area) and C6 (land use) to show the correct land use areas and uses as at 16 May 2016. The total of the ineligible and eligible land use areas should be the total land parcel size (you shouldn’t update C3 on a paper BP5 form and you can’t online).

All the eligible land use areas given should add up to the BPS eligible area in that land parcel (you shouldn’t update C4 on a paper BP5 form and you can’t online).

If you’re applying online, you may see an “overdeclared” or “undeclared” warning if the total of ineligible and eligible land use areas you’ve given is larger or smaller than the total parcel size prepopulated.

If the total parcel size is different to what’s shown, this may be correct and you can still submit your application. If you haven’t already submitted an RLE1, you may need to do so if the RPA needs to update your maps.

If your online maps aren’t correct, email or write to the RPA to let them know.

Which land use codes should I use?

Use the most up-to-date list of BPS 2016 land use codes which is available at www.gov.uk/guidance/bps-2016-land-use-codes.

I’ve updated my land use table, but my online maps haven’t updated?

Your online maps won’t be updated until the RPA processes the information you’ve given in the land use table.

What should I do if land parcels are missing from my BPS application?

If the land can’t be transferred to you online, you can include the missing land parcels in a Continuation Booklet (available at www.gov.uk/rpa/bps2016) or if you’re applying online, email the RPA (ruralpayments@defra.gsi.gov.uk) to request the land is added.

The email subject must be “2016 add land”. Include the relevant SBI and business name, your name and contact phone number and the land parcel reference numbers (including sheet references and parcel IDs).

The RPA should email within three working days to confirm if it’s been possible to add the land parcel(s). If it isn’t possible, you’ll need to include them in a paper continuation booklet.

How do I delete a land parcel from my online BPS application?

Where possible, transfer it online either to the new occupier or to the RPA’s dummy SBI (SBI 200116651, business name “Land removed from your holding”). Otherwise, in your land use table, click on “del” to delete all the land uses for the land parcel.

It will show an “undeclared” area. Once you’ve generated a new application summary, that land parcel will still be listed but columns C6, C7 and C8 should be blank.

How do I declare my EFA buffer strips online?

Unlike 2015, you don’t need to enter an area for your EFA buffer strips. You should give the linear measurement in metres. If the physical area of the buffer strip isn’t needed as a separate “crop” for crop diversification or to count towards a greening exemption, include it under the main land use code for the land parcel.

Only EFA nitrogen-fixing crops, catch and cover crops and fallow need to be separately identified.

The greening checker on my application summary seems to be wrong?

If you’re applying online, your application summary includes a greening checker for crop diversification and EFA to confirm if you’re meeting the rules or not in 2016. Sometimes, this greening checker doesn’t work correctly.

It may show “no” the rules haven’t been met, when they have. This is usually because you’ve got “undeclared” areas in your land use table or you have organic land and are applying for the organic greening exemption.

It will also be incorrect if land is included on a paper continuation booklet or you have land in another part of the UK. It’s only a guide so check the land declared in the land use table does meet the crop diversification and EFA requirements.

The ‘active farmer’ declaration wording seems to have changed?

It has changed and the wording on the paper BP5 form is now the same as online. Complete this declaration correctly or your application may be rejected (you can’t submit online if it’s not completed).

On a paper BP5 form, if you say “no” you don’t operate one of the five non-agricultural activities (F1) you don’t need to answer the rest of the questions.

However, if you say “yes”, you must complete F2 to indicate if your BPS 2015 claim was worth more than €5,000. If it was, you’ll need to requalify as an “active farmer” so F3 needs to be completed to say which of the three readmission routes you’re using.

Can I amend my BPS 2016 application after I’ve submitted it?

Provided you submit your application by midnight on 16 May 2016, you can amend it without penalty until 31 May 2016. To do this online, you’ll need to “create a new direct payments application”, make any amendments and resubmit it.

If I’m claiming online, what paper supporting documents should I post?

You may need to submit some elements of your BPS 2016 application on paper by 16 May 2016. This includes: continuation booklets; a new “active farmer” certificate if you’re using one of the income based readmission routes; organic greening exemption; young farmer payment evidence; national reserve applications as a new or young farmer; and RLE1 forms/sketch maps for new mapping changes.

Write your SBI on every sheet and keep a copy for your records. Post any documents to the RPA, preferably using special delivery, or hand deliver them to an RPA support centre.

Where can I find guidance on completing my BPS 2016 application?

The RPA has published all its guidance at www.gov.uk/rpa/bps2016. That includes the BPS 2016 rules, “How to claim BPS online”, “How to apply using a paper form”, BPS 2016 land use codes and a greening workbook.

There’s also a useful “BPS 2016: Hints and tips on making your application” booklet of guidance on the main issues around incorrect entitlements and land information and how to complete your application.


  • If you have incorrect entitlements and/or land data, complete your BPS 2016 application including your land as at 16 May 2016 to the best of your ability, ensuring that the areas and land use codes given reflect the correct position on the ground.
  • If you’ve not received a paper BP5 form, log onto the Rural Payments service – http://www.ruralpayments.service.gov.uk to check if there’s an online application
  • Complete the “active farmer” declaration correctly
  • Submit your BPS 2016 application and any supporting documents by midnight on 16 May 2016