Each year we come across cases where a little more care in the application process would have avoided adverse financial impacts later on, be that a lower or a late payment.
To avoid a late penalty, the claim window for BPS 2022 applications closed on 16 May.
If you missed the 16 May deadline, you had until midnight on 10 June to submit a late claim. But, your claim was subject to a 1% financial penalty for each day after the 16 May.
Now that the deadline has passed, there is very limited scope to make changes if a mistake has been made. So carrying out one final check on your submitted application, before filing it away, is vital.
You can still notify the RPA of an error in your application or withdraw land without penalty from your application at any time unless:
- you have already been told about any non-compliance in your application
- a check has revealed any non-compliances in your application
- you have received advance warning of a visit (inspection) by a field officer
More information on amending an application can be found in our briefing: Amending BPS 2022 applications
Check the rules
Was there anything you didn't understand that you need to double check before it is too late?
Remember that the land you claim BPS on must remain primarily in agricultural use for the full calendar year.
All the BPS 2022 guidance can be found at Gov.uk | Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) 2022.
Has the RPA got your online claim?
In terms of receipts, for online claims there are four ways to see a claim has been successfully submitted.
- Immediately after submission an online notification should have appeared (and then disappeared).
- The status of the claim should show as ‘submitted’ with the time and date.
- There will also be a message in the ‘Your businesses and messages’ tab that shows the claim has been submitted.
- Finally, after submitting the claim, you should have generated and downloaded a final PDF of the application. This summary will show the document as being submitted with the time and date. That copy should show the correct entries, and is your evidence of what you submitted on the application.
Have you sent the RPA what was required and in the right way? For example, RLE1 forms covering mapping changes etc.
Copies of documents
Make sure you have kept a ‘carbon copy’ of everything you sent to the RPA. For BPS claims that is a hard copy/copy saved on PC showing time and date of submission and that the online saved version states it is the submitted version. This is in case the RPA seeks clarification on an element of the claim made.
If you have posted documents, follow the RPA guidance on what receipts should be received. Chase the RPA if they do not arrive within 10 working days. Put a reminder in your diary of when you should receive a receipt back from the RPA.
On 6 May 2022 Defra and the RPA announced a change to the approach in delivery of direct payments. Direct payments in England will now be paid in two instalments in each year for the remainder of the agricultural transition period.
NFU Vice President David Exwood said: “With farmers facing extreme inflationary pressure and businesses being squeezed more than ever, any advance payment of BPS claims for this year is positive and will help cash flow. I’m pleased Defra and the RPA has recognised the seriousness of the situation and put in place a practical solution.
“However, it’s crucial that this change does not adversely affect the delivery and promptness of payments. As Defra plans to move forward with two payment windows on a permanent basis, we will be looking for reassurances from the RPA that it will continue its strong delivery performance and ensure farmers receive their payments as early as possible on both occasions. We’d ask the RPA to continue working with the NFU on the rollout and delivery of the scheme."
This is the first change to direct payments since the move to a 1 December to 30 June payment window many years ago.
This payment window has become well known by many members for all the wrong reasons, due to the delay in receiving payments such as BPS and SPS within this seven-month period. We know that having such a long window does not help cashflow.
The NFU has constantly monitored payment progress and at times sought advancement of late payments when processing stalled. Thankfully, the days of mass delays in payments are behind us, but we still work with the RPA to ensure all payments are issued swiftly.
Details are currently thin on the ground, but the RPA now plans to make direct payments in two instalments to help farmers with cash flow. The first payment will be made from the end of July and the second made from December.
This timing and frequency of instalments will apply each year for the remainder of the agricultural transition period. This suggests a permanent change not only for BPS 2022, but also BPS 2023 and then delinked payments when they are introduced to eligible farmers from 2024 and finish in 2027. The first payments will begin from July 2022 and balance payments from December 2022.
This will clearly help cash flow, but there is always devil in the detail and we do not have that detail at this time.
We have already raised a number of questions with the RPA. We have asked for clarity on various terms used in the information published by Defra on 6 May 2022 (Gov.uk | Payments brought forward to help farmers with cashflow)
In the current climate we do not want to see the delivery of an advance payment cause any more stress and anxiety to farmers than they already have.
Below are some of the points we have raised with Defra and the RPA following the 6 May 2022 statement.
You can also download our detailed briefing which contains the latest information we have received from the RPA on how it will handle advance payments: BPS 2022 - advance payments
Perhaps the most obvious issue we have is that this split payment is being billed as a help to cash flow. It will only truly help cash flow if the second part payment arrives on the day a single full payment would have been issued based on previous payment performance. Any later than the first day of December would for most be a worse cash flow position than if they had received a single payment. The RPA has already said when the BPS 2022 application window opened that it intended to reach the same level of performance by the end of the year as it did last December. We will be keeping an eye on this.
How can we make sure farmers understand the position? We have called for the RPA to pull together a Q&A document to cover all the ins and outs of what has been announced. The underlying principle here is that a BPS recipient understands what they are getting as part of the first payment and how that relates to the second payment – less than 50%, about 50% and over 50% of the final claim value (does Young Farmer Payment/Commons etc impact on the percentage read) received from July? This is critical for those receiving the payments, for managing cashflow and what is to come later in the year. Farmers need a quick ready reckoner to help them manage this change.
Can we assume that those inspected (eligibility/cross compliance) and/or those with common land (including the New Forest) will see an advanced payment? We need more detail. If there are groups that cannot be paid an advanced payment, then they need to be told quickly so they avoid getting into a cash flow issue on the back of thinking they might get a payment when they will not.
We have asked the RPA to speak with the banks and finance providers to explain the changes and in particular cover off some of the details and issues. The last thing we want to see is adverse impact from lenders to this early payment provision.
Does the RPA have the time to deliver this without impacting on the final payment delivery and also other schemes being delivered or rolled out, such as the Sustainable Farming Incentive?
Our BPS advisers have put together two comprehensive briefings on BPS 2022. One covers the BPS 2022 policy changes and reminders and the other one all the information needed to submit an application.
You can also still download our briefing from January 2021 about the changes that were brought in for BPS 2021. It provides an explanation of the BPS simplifications that were made during 2020 for BPS 2021 following the UK's exit from the EU.
As always, the only way to ensure that you know all the rules is to read all the RPA guidance: Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) 2022