BPS 2017: How to apply

The drive to online Basic Payment Scheme claims continues as the applications process opens this week.

Even if you are not ready to make your application, there are checks that can be done which may save time closer to the 15 May deadline.

The entitlement transfer system is also open, allowing a backlog of deals to be confirmed.

Claimants should know that maintenance is planned between 4pm on Thursday 23 March and 8am on Monday 27 March, when the RPA’s online claims system will be out of action. The timings will be confirmed later in the month.

How can I apply for BPS 2017?

In England, the online Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) 2017 application window opens this week.

Applications can be submitted online on the Rural Payments service or on a paper BP5 form.

If you applied on paper last year and didn’t use an agent, you should automatically receive a paper BP5 form in mid-March.

Around 80% of claimants applied online in 2016, so if you’ve received a paper BP5 form but would prefer to switch to online, phone the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) on 03000 200 301.

Alice De Soer, Central Association of Agricultural Valuers 

In other parts of the UK, Welsh applicants have to use RPW Online and the Single Application Form (SAF) will be available from 6 March.

Scottish applicants can apply online using Rural Payments and Services from about 15 March or submit a paper SAF.

What are the BPS 2017 application deadlines?

A BPS 2017 application (and supporting evidence) must be submitted by midnight on 15 May 2017 to avoid late claim penalties.

Certain changes can then be made to a submitted application without penalty up to midnight on 31 May 2017.

The final date to submit an application is 9 June 2017, but late claim penalties will apply. Any application submitted after 9 June will be rejected.

See also: RPA issues new query form for BPS underpayments

Where can I find guidance about applying for BPS in 2017?

You can find RPA guidance online on the Gov.uk website . It includes cross-compliance 2017 guidance, BPS 2017 scheme rules, “how-to” guidance for online and paper applications, a greening workbook and other supporting forms. Also use the onscreen help on the Rural Payments service to assist with your online application.

How do I start my BPS 2017 online application?

Go to the Rural Payments website and sign in. If you registered for the Rural Payments service last year, sign in using your Customer Reference Number (CRN) and password (or your Gov.uk Verify details if that’s how you registered). If you need to register, either use Gov.uk Verify or phone the RPA on 03000 200 301.

Once signed in, the “Your businesses” page should show. Click on “View Business” to go to the “Business overview” page – this has links to all elements of your BPS 2017 application.

What are the main elements of an online BPS 2017 application?

From Business overview, you can check and update personal and business details (make sure the business email address is up to date), use “Give access to this business” to give BPS submit permission for someone else to complete the application on your behalf.

You can use “Land” to check your online maps, update land use and transfer land online, use “Entitlements” to check your entitlements and transfer them online, update common land information and create and submit your BPS 2017 application.

How should I check what needs to be changed on my BPS 2017 application?

First, check your application summary, which looks like a prepopulated paper BP5. To access it, click on “Applications” and “Apply for BPS”. Then click “Create a new direct payments application”, press “Back” and then “Open”. From the drop-down menu, select “View and print your application summary”, click “Generate” and then “Download”.

That creates your application summary, which can be printed off or viewed on screen. Check your information and mark any changes needed. Don’t submit the application summary as a paper form.

How do I check my land?

From “Land”, click “View land” to check your online maps. Where an RLE1 form has already been submitted but your maps haven’t been updated yet, an “!” icon should show for that land parcel.

Your maps can be printed, but only one land parcel at a time.

How do I update my land use and give greening details?

Again from “Land”, click on “Land use” to view the table where you enter land use codes and areas, as well as EFA details. If you update information here, it changes what’s shown on Part C (Field data sheet) and Part D (Greening: EFAs) of your BPS 2017 application. It doesn’t update what’s shown on your online maps.

Two columns you can’t update are “Parcel size” (equivalent of C3 on the application summary) or “BPS area” (BPS eligible area – C4). The areas shown are what’s mapped on the RPA’s Land Parcel Identification System (LPIS). They may be incorrect if your maps need to be updated.

Use “Land use” (C7 on application summary) and “ha’/’m” (C6) to give your eligible and ineligible land use codes and areas, as well as EFA details.

Land should be declared to reflect the position on the ground as at 15 May 2017. The total area of eligible land uses gives the area to be activated for payment (C8 on application summary). You can reduce that in “Applications” by using “Activate less BPS area”.

My land use table shows undeclared or overdeclared. What does this mean?

An amber undeclared or red overdeclared box may show on your land use table. Undeclared means the total area of the eligible and ineligible land uses given is less than the total parcel size (C3).

Overdeclared appears when the total area of eligible and ineligible land uses given is more than the total parcel size.

As parcel size (C3) is taken from the current data mapped on the RPA’s LPIS, if your maps need to be updated to reflect that the total parcel size has either increased or reduced, undeclared or overdeclared could be showing correctly.

It’s simply that the RPA has not mapped that new total parcel size as yet.

You can still submit your BPS application with undeclared or overdeclared showing, but check the eligible and ineligible land use areas you’ve given are correct and submit an RLE1 form to ask the RPA to update your maps, if you haven’t already.

How do I add a land parcel to my online BPS 2017 application?

Land must be at your disposal on 15 May 2017. Provided it’s registered on the RPA’s LPIS, land can be transferred online to you by the previous occupier.

If that’s not possible, email the RPA to ask for it to be added – use the subject “2017 add land”; give your SBI, business name, contact details and parcel reference numbers and send the email to ruralpayments@defra.gsi.gov.uk.

Otherwise, use a paper continuation booklet (available to print from the Gov.uk site) but the land parcel won’t show on your online application.

How do I remove a land parcel from my online BPS 2017 application?

You can transfer land online to a new occupier (you will need the SBI and business name) or to an RPA dummy SBI (200116651).

Alternatively, use the new online function to remove land. Access this from “Transfer land” and select “remove” as the transfer type. If you can’t transfer or remove the land parcel, delete all the land uses for that parcel on your land use table and send an RLE1 form to the RPA.

When should I use an RLE1 form and sketch map?

Use an RLE1 form and sketch map to ask the RPA to make a permanent change to your maps (register new land, make a permanent boundary change, add a new permanent ineligible feature  or area, split or merge land parcels).

Also use one if you are transferring part of a land parcel or need to transfer land you can’t transfer or remove online (it isn’t possible to transfer or remove land online if the land’s status shows less than 100% owner/occupier or tenant).

An RLE1 form or sketch map isn’t needed for temporary cropping splits or to show EFAs.

Ensure the sketch map is clear, as it is the key information to help the RPA update your maps correctly. Include notes about measurements, new land use and so on, on the sketch map.

The RPA doesn’t confirm when your maps have been updated, so you’ll need to check your online maps.

How do I check my entitlements?

Under “Entitlements”, the new “View entitlements” screen shows more detailed information about the entitlements you hold. This replaces the paper entitlements statement.

You can transfer entitlements online. For entitlements to be used for an English BPS 2017 application, transfer them by 15 May 2017 (so the “Effective from” date can’t be later than this). The transfer should be confirmed in your messages area on the Rural Payments service.

The deadline for transferring entitlements in Wales is 2 May 2017 and Scotland would usually be 2 April (to allow a six-week prior notification period), but as that’s a Sunday it should move to Monday 3 April 2017.

I’ve checked and updated my land and entitlements information. What should I do next?

Use “Make changes to my application” under “Applications/Apply for BPS” if you need to reduce the eligible area you’re claiming (C8), the area used for EFAs, or common land.

Also use this section to indicate if you are claiming the young farmer payment (and then submit the required supporting evidence by 15 May 2017, even if you’re a repeat applicant).

Then go to “Declarations” and complete the active farmer declaration, say what your currency preference is and, where relevant, if you’re a cross-border applicant or want to use the organic greening exemption.

How do I check my BPS 2017 application before submitting it?

Generate another application summary and check the information. That shows any changes you’ve made in the land use table (Part C: Field data sheet and Part D: Greening EFA) as well as under “Make changes to my application” and “Declarations”.

BPS 2017 summary

Sign into the Rural Payments service  

Do the following online:

  • Check personal and business details
  • Give permission for an agent or someone else to submit your BPS claim
  • Check and transfer land and entitlements
  • Update land use
  • Complete declarations
  • Check your application summary
  • Submit your application and supporting evidence by midnight on 15 May 2017

The application summary has a greening checker to confirm if you’ve met the crop diversification and EFA rules.

This doesn’t always work correctly if there’s undeclared land in the land use table; the organic exemption is being used; land has been included on a paper supplementary field data booklet; or it is a cross-border application.

The greening rules haven’t changed this year, but carefully check your greening calculations to ensure you’ve declared correct areas and lengths or that one of the available exemptions applies.

How do I submit my BPS 2017 application?

Under “Make/manage your application”, click “Submit”. That gives instant confirmation of receipt and your application status should change to submitted.

Either save a copy of the submitted application summary on your computer or print it off, as the one held online may change as the RPA updates your data.

Supporting documents cannot be submitted online, so either post them to the RPA (Rural Payments, PO Box 352, Worksop, S80 9FG) or hand-deliver them to an RPA drop-in centre (unlikely to be available until April).

Write your SBI on every sheet and keep a copy for your records. If posting documents, ensure they’re sent either Recorded or preferably Special Delivery.

How do I apply for BPS 2017 if I have outstanding BPS 2015 and/or 2016 issues?

Declare your land to reflect the correct position on the ground as at 15 May 2017.

If you believe that land or entitlements information held by the RPA is incorrect and that’s led to an incorrect BPS 2015 and/or 2016 payment, raise this with the RPA if you haven’t already done so – use their new Payment Query form (available on Gov.uk).