BPS 2016: Last-minute application tips

There is only one week to go until the BPS 2016 deadline on 16 May and many farmers still have questions about the application process.

We asked Alice De Soer from the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV) to give some last-minute reminders for English applicants in this Q&A.

I haven’t received a paper BP5 form, how do I submit an application?

The deadline to request a paper BP5 form is 9 May 2016. Check if an online application is active at www.ruralpayments.service.gov.uk, otherwise contact the RPA helpline (03000 200 301) to activate your online application.

If you’re a new claimant, phone the RPA to register. Entitlements and land can be transferred to you online. If it’s not possible to transfer land online, include it in a supplementary booklet.

See also: More Farmers Weekly’s BPS stories

What are my options if I am struggling to meet the deadline?

While the CAAV has requested the 2016 deadline be extended to 15 June, which is still being considered by Defra, the deadline is currently midnight on 16 May 2016.

So long as your application (including some land information and completed declarations) is submitted by then, certain amendments can be made up to midnight on 31 May 2016 without penalty.

This gives an additional two weeks during which applications can be updated. Up to midnight on 31 May you can add a land parcel, increase its area, change the “land use” and increase the area being claimed for BPS.

These amendments can only be made if the RPA hasn’t informed you about any non-compliance affecting the agricultural parcel you want to amend. A BPS 2016 application can be submitted up to midnight on 10 June 2016 but late claim penalties will be applied.

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

What supporting documents do I need to submit by 16 May 2016 deadline?

Make sure any evidence supporting your BPS 2016 application is submitted to the RPA by 16 May 2016 deadline to avoid late application penalties.

This includes the “active farmer” certificate to re-qualify, organic certification to support a greening exemption and the young/new farmer certificate (including national reserve applications for new entitlements).

Submit these in hard copy to the RPA either via the post (using special delivery) or by hand to an RPA support centre. See the GOV.UK website for details of the support centres and their opening hours (www.gov.uk/rpa/bps2016).

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

If you believe your BPS 2015 payment may be incorrect, email (ruralpayments@defra.gsi.gov.uk) or write to the RPA (Rural Payments, PO Box 352, Worksop, S80 9FG) to raise this.

Use the heading “BPS 2015 payment”. The RPA should be reviewing 2015 BPS issues from this summer.

Complete your BPS 2016 application to the best of your ability to reflect the correct position on the ground as at 16 May 2016 and send in a covering email or letter to the RPA to explain what you’ve done.

The RPA has stated: “Where there is flexibility under the scheme rules, the agency will use it, so that customers are not penalised unnecessarily for claiming on what they believe to be correct for BPS 2016.”

What is the BPS 2016 entitlements transfer deadline?

Entitlements must be transferred by midnight on 16 May 2016. This can either be done online or via a paper RLE1 form.

Can I still ask the RPA to add land to an online BPS 2016 application?

Yes. The RPA had said such requests had to be emailed by 6 May to add land by 16 May, but it’s still possible to request a land parcel is added to an online application that has been submitted by midnight on 16 May to make use of the amendment period up to 31 May 2016. Email the RPA and use the subject “BPS 2016 Add Land”.

My land and/or entitlements information seems to be incorrect, what should I do?

Complete your BPS 2016 application to the best of your ability to reflect the correct position on the ground as at 16 May 2016. You should also send a covering email or letter to the RPA to explain.

If I include more eligible land on my BPS 2016 application than the number of entitlements I hold, will over-declaration penalties be applied?

There have been concerns about over-declaration penalties with ongoing BPS 2015 issues and incorrect mapping and entitlements information.

An over-declaration penalty should only be applied where you declare more land as being eligible than the RPA determines. Examples of this would be that a land parcel is found not to be “at the disposal” of the claimant on 16 May 2016 or the land is not “agricultural” and being primarily used for an “agricultural activity” throughout the relevant calendar year.

Therefore, provided you declare your eligible (and ineligible) land to the best of your ability to reflect the position on the ground as at 16 May 2016, the RPA should only use as much eligible land as is needed to activate the number of entitlements you hold on 16 May 2016.

Where you’ve included more eligible land than the number of entitlements you hold, no over-declaration penalty should be applied. So more eligible land can be included on your BPS 2016 application than the number of entitlements you have.

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