Blog: BPS and the RPA's online services - what you need to know now

richard wordsworth on generic fields background, blog_33747

He writes:

With an increased number of BPS claimants using the RPA’s online Rural Payments service this year to submit their forms, it’s perhaps useful to run through a few things to be aware of over the coming months:

System downtime
From time to time the Rural Payments service will be unavailable. It shouldn’t be seen as it being an unstable system, but as with any software it needs to be updated on a regular basis. That could be to ensure service is secure from cyber-attacks or to allow it to work over multiple years or schemes and ultimately deliver payments from 1 December.

Access to the online system – passwords
As with any system that provides sensitive data, access has to be controlled. Part of that approach is the need to keep changing passwords, so please do remember that access will be prevented after a period of inactivity.

Tracking a claim’s status online
You have the ability to track a claim status online in the ‘Apply for BPS’ screen of the Rural Payment Service. The status of a claim will move between now and, hopefully, December, through the following stages (select the picture for a larger version):

BPS 2017 claim stages

Land measuring tool now back and available online
Since the BPS deadline, the RPA has toggled its online tool to take measurements of your land parcel boundaries back on. This will help those looking at alternative greening EFA options given the recent changes (and restrictions to the use of plant protection products on field based fallow / catch and cover and nitrogen fixing crop options).

The tool allows you to take measurements of distances on your online maps in metres. Guidance is available on the RPA site to help you use the tool.  The measuring tool information is on page 4 of the RPA’s online guidance, here. The tool is available in the ‘Parcel Details’ page within the ‘Land Viewer’ section. If you are viewing land at a holding level then this will not be available.

No online entitlement and land transfers between 16 May 2017 and February 2018
As with last year, the ability to transfer land and / or entitlements online between farmers during this period is not going to be possible with the current BPS software. This is due to the impact that such data changes will have on the processing of the current BPS 2017 claims. 

The RPA can accept RLE1 forms for land or entitlement transfers for 2018 now, but they will not be processed until 2018 (BPS 2017 claim processing is priority), so in our view it is best to hold off any of these transfers until the online capability is available in 2018. This will be a frustrating message for many of you (especially where land is being given up at the end of a tenancy or where land has been sold off), but for those that have used the online system to transfer land and entitlements, the wait is worth it. The key is for all parties involved to be aware of the situation now.

Online BPS claim functionality
After we moved beyond the final date to submit a 2017 BPS claim online (9 June), so the online system began to restrict what users could do. From 10 June, elements of the system were taken offline to prevent changes which would affect your application. You became unable to change active farmer declarations online, edit land use online or add or delete commons rights online. You can still view entitlements for scheme years 2015 to 2017 and view land (which may help with any ongoing mapping issues). The RPA will keep us up to date with the online service via, for example on the following webpage.

Have you checked your details online? Don’t forget to check that the details you have registered in the ‘Personal Details’ and ‘Business Details’ sections of the Rural Payments Service are up-to-date. Please pay particular attention to the email address registered for the business, because you could miss out on important information.

Some details you cannot change online, for example you will need to call the RPA to change bank account details. To avoid problems there, you need to tell RPA before 20 November 2017 if you want to be paid into a different bank account.