The NFU's BPS team continues to work on behalf of members. Various activity is ongoing to ensure that BPS and other schemes run as smoothly as possible at this time.
BPS application process
- Ensuring that paper application forms have been issued to members.
- Making sure that the RPA has the ability to handle inbound paper documents.
- Seeking clarity on the support for those vulnerable or remotely based claimants with perhaps lower IT skill set.
- Seeking clarity around the non-provision of drop in centres this year.
- Seeking understanding on how RPA wants claims and various associated documents sent to them and for this to be explained carefully to farmers.
The NFU has sought flexibility around what can be submitted around the original application deadline and the challenges faced with lockdown conditions. The NFU’s underlying view is that we should have stuck with the 15 May BPS deadline (now changed to 15 June 2020), but with increased flexibility to help farmers either side of that deadline. At the heart of the reason for this is our concern that the delivery of timely payments comes later this year.
The NFU continues to work on a range of issues with the RPA and Defra and is in daily contact. With recent EU developments giving scope for changes to the number and potentially the way inspections are handled, the NFU will continue to work to ensure such changes benefit members.
RPA COVID-19 page at Gov.uk
The NFU has worked with the RPA to develop and refine the content of its COVID-19 web page for farmers, landowners and rural businesses at Gov.uk to ensure that this information source is updated on a regular basis and corral all the key information (be that new or confirmed) in one location. The NFU has continued to work with the RPA since this page first went live on 1 April, to refine and link it with other key related information. The NFU has urged members to keep referring to this webpage for the latest information.
Prior to the application window opening and the COVID-19 situation arising, the NFU had been keen to see further refinement of the BPS application process and this has led to a number of tweaks to the Rural Payments online service and which are covered within the 2020 guidance. Equally, the NFU has worked with the RPA on a number of land based developments that will benefit members this year, and which the NFU has welcomed. These being:
- Ability to see previous versions on online mapping online – this is now possible to see where the RPA have made changes.
- Correction of erroneous online land tenure or field parcel share details – the RPA has set up a process to correct this data to help farmers if they want to transfer land online.
- Development of an editable PDF version of the RLE1 form to be able to email the RPA – the RPA has developed this to help move away from an online BPS form having to be accompanied by this mapping/entitlement change form via post.
Further new NFU BPS online content
More BPS related information can be found on NFUonline at our dedicated BPS channel. This includes:
- WATCH AGAIN: BPS applications webinar: Your questions answered
- Reminders around greening crop diversification rules relaxed in 2020
- BPS 2020: Policy changes
Need help with BPS?
NFU members have access to NFU CallFirst to support completion of BPS claims by calling 0370 845 8458.
More from NFUonline:
- Coronavirus: Advice for NFU members
- Business impact reporting - make your views known
- Download the Essential Journey Certificate here
- Pick For Britain - post your job vacancies now
- Watch now: A message from the President
- NFU has second meeting with banks on support for the sector