Northern Ireland’s BPS payments get 4.3% boost

The value of Northern Ireland’s Basic Payment Scheme entitlements will rise by 4.3% this year to ensure that the whole of its £293m budget allocation for direct payments is spent.

Agriculture minister Edwin Poots announced the increase, which is worth £8m in total and £330 on average to each claimant.

“Over time, the difference between the value of direct payments made to farmers and the budget allocation has increased due to a number of issues such as not all BPS entitlements being activated for payment,” he said.

See also: 2020 BPS conversion rate reminder

“Therefore I have decided to apply an increase of 4.3% to the unit value of all BPS entitlements in the 2020 scheme year.”

Full BPS payments

Full payments for 2020 will start on 16 October in Northern Ireland, it has also been confirmed.

It is the first time that this has been possible, as UK payment bodies had to follow EU rules which only allowed for an advance payment to be made in October, with the balance following after 1 December.

Ulster Farmers’ Union president Victor Chestnutt said the ability to get full payments out at the earliest opportunity supported the decision taken earlier in the year to maintain the original 15 May application deadline despite Covid-19 restrictions at that time.

He also welcomed the decision to increase payments to ensure all available funding was used.

“It is a permanent uplift to entitlements and not a one-off payment – therefore, it will apply in 2021 and beyond until the system changes,” he said.