Farmers urged to submit BPS applications without delay

Farmers and landowners are being encouraged to submit their BPS applications as soon as possible to reduce the chances of receiving late payments.

On 27 April, Defra announced a one-month extension to the deadline for 2020 BPS applications in England to 15 June to allow for disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic and help customers to avoid financial penalties for late submissions.

Farmers in Wales were also handed a one-month extension to their Single Application Form (SAF) deadline to 15 June. But in Scotland and Northern Ireland, the SAF window closed on 15 May.

See also: Coronavirus: Applying for farm support schemes

The NI Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs has confirmed that 24,494 BPS claims were received by midnight on 15 May 2020.

However, hundreds of farmers in England and Wales have taken advantage of this delayed deadline and not submitted their BPS claims yet.

The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) said on Wednesday (27 May) that some 15,000 farmers and landowners, out of an estimated 84,000 eligible claimants, had not yet submitted their BPS claims.

But the NFU has emphasised that the quicker the remaining claims get to the RPA, the more time they will have to process them ahead of the payment window opening on 1 December.

NFU senior BPS adviser Richard Wordsworth said: “I would urge you to get your BPS claim submitted as soon as possible if you have not done so to date.

“This will benefit both you and other claimants, as the simple fact is it gives the RPA more time to process your claim this year ahead of the payment window opening in December. To me, it is a no-brainer.”

The same date (15 June) also applies for farmers submitting claims for Countryside Stewardship (CS), Environmental Stewardship (ES) and woodland revenue legacy payments. The RPA said on Wednesday that 77.5% of CS claims and 71.1% os ES claims had been submitted.

Final checks

Those who have already submitted their BPS claims are being advised to carry out one final check to amend claims if necessary to avoid any financial penalties. This includes ensuring receipts for claims submitted online and supporting documents, such as RLE1 forms covering any mapping changes, have been correctly filled in.

The paper BP5 forms have now been issued. If a specific business has not received its BP5 form, someone with permissions for the business will need to contact the RPA, either by phone or by email, to confirm non-receipt and request a reprint.

The period for making amendments without penalty has been extended to midnight 30 June 2020. The final deadline, with penalties, is extended to midnight on 10 July 2020.

Help available

Further information is available by searching for “BPS 2020” on the Gov.uk website and from the NFU website through its BPS pages.

Customers can also call the RPA on 03000 200 301 (Monday to Friday between 8:30am and 5pm) or email ruralpayments@defra.gov.uk. Remember to include your SBI number on anything you send to the agency.

Tenant Farmers’ Association chief executive George Dunn said the decision to move the BPS deadline to June must not be “used as an excuse for making late payments under these schemes”.

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