By May 15, all farmers in the UK must be registered for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), but the system is proving to be a real challenge for many farmers. Promar senior consultant Charles Skelton provides some practical tips to make the process more straightforward and hopefully less stressful.
To receive the BPS payment, it is essential you meet all the deadlines and submit a correct application.
Promar senior consultant Charles Skelton said the watchwords for making the application process as smooth as possible were:
Mr Skelton said the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) was enacting a policy where all errors were the responsibility of the ‘submitter’. If mistakes are found by the RPA, there is risk of a fine with variable severity.
He said the RPA was still fine-tuning the process and warned the exact approach may change slightly, but his advice to farmers yet to start the application process was as follows.
The first stage is registration for the scheme and creation of an identity on the Government RPA website. The deadline for this is midnight on Friday May 15.
Although this is still a while away, the sooner you make a start the better so you are not rushing at the end. This will give more time to check numbers and avoid errors. The RPA will have more time to help when the case workload is lower. Their workload will only increase as the deadline draws near.
It will still be possible to apply until midnight on June 9, but if you miss the May deadline, you risk a penalty for late submission. The penalty will be 1 per cent of the total BPS for every working day the submission is late, so there is a financial incentive to get on with your application.
You have two options for registration:
The RPA lines will be open between 7am and 6pm on weekdays and 8am-2pm at weekends. For many, the telephone method will have many benefits.
Telephone registration should only take 10-15 minutes. You can also go the stages which verify you and your business over the phone.
This can take longer online as it is carried out by an external agency. Making sure you have everything ready will also help it go
As all correspondence after initial registration is by email with the entire scheme being exclusively online, it is essential to have an email address before you start registering as you will be asked for it.
Those who do not have email will need to set an address up. The quickest and easiest way to do this is by using a web-based system such as Gmail or Hotmail which can be accessed from any computer.
When you phone in or register online, you may be asked for various pieces of information (see panel). The process will be far easier if you have them available before you start.
Crucial details will be the Single Business Identity, which is on the last Single Farm Payment application, and your County Parish Holding (CPH) number. If you know your personal identifier number and your trader/vendor number, this would also be helpful, but they are not essential.
Whether you phone or go online, you will have to answer the three security questions created when you first started dealing with Defra.
These are usually a memorable date, why the date is memorable and a memorable place. Make sure you have these answers ready and do not guess them, because if you get them wrong you will not be able to proceed further.
As with the Single Payment Scheme (SPS), payment is dependent on meeting all cross compliance requirements including cattle passports, cattle movements and so on. So before you contact the RPA, make sure these are up-to-date.
When you phone in you will be taken through verification and asked for your email address. You will be given a customer registration number (CRN) and will be asked to set up passwords (with at least eight characters using letters, digits and capitals), so think about this prior to the call.
You should not expect to rush through the registration, so do not try and squeeze it in between other jobs. Treat it as a priority and allocate a set time to do it. Write everything down as you will need several bits on information during registration later in the process.
When you phone in, they will take you through verification. You will be given a customer registration number (CRN) and a one-use passcode. They will offer to walk you through the next stage, including setting up the password you will need to access the site from now onwards.
Alternatively, you can go online (www.gov.uk/rural-payments) where you will enter the CRN and passcode and set up the passwords.
You can now verify the business details from your last SPS form. This is much easier to do on the phone as you can correct them there and then and will have someone to guide you.
You may be asked for three or four of these pieces of information