The deadline to make claims without a late application penalty was midnight on 16 May 2022.
Late applications will be accepted up to midnight on 10 June (with a penalty).
Visit Rural Payments Agency key dates 2022 for all the key BPS, Countryside Stewardship and Environmental Stewardship dates.
Our BPS advisers have put together two comprehensive briefings. One covers the BPS 2022 policy changes and reminders and the other one all the information needed to submit an application.
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
What's covered in these briefings?
- Policy changes and approach
- Changes for 2022
- Application and payment windows
- Payment reminders
- New scheme activity and connection to BPS 2022
- 2021 changes that still apply for 2022
- Young farmer payment
- RPA communications
- How to contact the RPA
- Mapping / RLE1 forms / Entitlements
- Changes to the Rural Payments Service
- Where to find information on the Gov.uk website
- How to use the Rural Payments online system
- RPA checks on paper forms
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."
Direct payments - new approach
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.
Move to two instalments
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 as stated 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. You will note from the information released on 6 May there are various terms and words used that we are seeking clarity on from the RPA and Defra as they are not necessarily given full certainty. Given the current trading climate famers are in we do not want the delivery of an advance payment to cause any more stress and anxiety to farmers than they already have. After all, this is trying to help farmers to a degree.
Below are some of the points we have raised with Defra and the RPA following the 6 May press statement which you can read on the Gov.uk website: Gov.uk | Payments brought forward to help farmers with cashflow
- How much will a farmer get? What does ‘bring forward half of this year’s BPS payment’ actually mean?
- Who will get an advanced payment? What does ‘farmers with eligible applications will receive the first payment…’ mean? Is it everyone – from small to the largest claims?
- When will those that get an advance payment get it? What does ‘first payment will be made from the end of July and second made from December’ look like in practice? The industry is reading this already as 50% in July. But the timing of actual payments could be later. How does that help with certainty around cash flow? What will the payment window be for both parts of the new split payment approach?
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.
We will be looking to see how this will change in the next two months to allow the first part of the BPS 2022 payment to be made.
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?