Farmers and land managers have just a few days left to submit their basic payment applications without penalty.
The deadline to submit Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) applications is midnight on Monday 17 May. After this date, applications will be subject to late claim penalties.
In England, as of 12 May the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) had received 73,000 BPS 2021 applications.
Although this is roughly the number the agency would expect to receive at this point in the application window, it still leaves a shortfall of more than 10,000 applications.
The RPA is encouraging farmers who have yet to submit their applications to do so as soon as they are able to.
The Rural Payments helpline, 03000 200 301, will be open on Saturday 15 May and Sunday 16 May from 8.30am to 2pm to support farmers with any last-minute queries for BPS, as well as Countryside Stewardship and Environmental Stewardship revenue claims.
Defra has confirmed plans to phase out direct payments in England from 2021 to 2027 and it will redirect funding to new green schemes to pay farmers “public money for public goods”.
The department has already set out the percentage reductions that will be made to BPS applications for the 2021 to 2024 scheme years. For example, claims of up to £30,000 will see a 5% reduction this year, with bigger reductions applied to the highest payment bands.
As of 12 May, the Scottish government said 17,253 BPS applications had either been submitted or started online. A spokesman said the government expects to receive 19,500 applications.
Any farmers and crofters who need technical help with their applications can contact the Scottish government’s IT service desk on 0131 244 6202.
Wales and Northern Ireland
The deadline of midnight on 17 May for submitting Single Application Forms (SAF) to avoid a late claim penalty also applies in Wales and Northern Ireland.
In Northern Ireland, farmers can direct any queries to the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs’ advisory service on 0300 200 7848, or by using the webchat facility within online applications.
Rural Payments Wales is accepting SAF application queries on 0300 062 5004.