Farmers and agents can now log in to the Rural Payments Service to begin the application process for the 2016 Basic Payment Scheme, the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has announced.
But while some farmers will welcome an early glimpse of the new system, the agency latest update on BPS 2015, also issued by RPA today, shows more than 15,000 farmers in England are still waiting to be paid.
As at 29 February, over 71,700 farmers, over 82 per cent of all eligible claims, had received their BPS 2015 payments worth a total of £1.13 billion.
This latest batch of payments includes some to those claiming on common land and some to those subject to inspections, groups which had known they were towards the back of the queue for some time.
However, the figures suggested relatively slow progress over the past fortnight, with only 880 farmers paid since the previous update on February 23.
The RPA maintained its line that ’almost all eligible farmers will receive their payments by the end of March with a few thousand of the more complex cases taking slightly longer, as they did under SPS’.
The agency said it had been keeping farmers up to date on when certain types of claims would be paid.
Looking ahead to BPS 2016, claimants can check and change their personal and business details, including keeping email addresses accurate and up-to-date.
New for 2016, farmers and agents can also now view and transfer land and entitlements on the Rural Payments Service.
Farmers and agents will be able to start applying soon. From ’around mid-March onwards’, they will be able complete their declarations and confirm all information before submitting their completed application online.
Anyone who applied for the Single Payment Scheme (SPS) online in 2014 will be sent all they need to apply online for BPS in 2016.
Those who did not apply online in 2014, will receive a paper form but they can contact the Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301 to set up their online application if they wish.
The application deadline for BPS 2016 claims is midnight on 16 May 2016.
All the latest information on how to apply for BPS 2016 online here . This includes the 2016 scheme rules.
RPA said it would be making ‘how to apply online’ guidance available for all, after farmers and agents said they would find this helpful.
Further support is available from RPA this year through ‘How to’ videos.
These provide step-by-step guides on transferring land, transferring entitlements and a general overview of how to apply online.
RPA Chief Executive Mark Grimshaw said: “We have developed the Rural Payments Service for 2016 so it’s now possible, for the first time, to see and transfer land and entitlements online.
“Going online and checking details early means information should be updated in time to show on 2016 BPS online applications, which will be available in mid-March.
“I’d also like to remind farmers there will be help and support for anyone who needs it throughout the BPS 2016 application window.”