Support schemes – what to look out for in 2023

An image of a farming landscape

As we look ahead to 2023, the NFU team run through what to look out for on support schemes in the New Year, covering everything from the Lump Sum Exit Scheme to BPS and Productivity Grants.

2022 Scheme payments

The RPA continue to deliver the remaining BPS, CS and HLS payments within the payment window that runs to 30 June 2023.

As always, check the payment is correct. Those in the Sustainable Farming Incentive (Pilot or 2022) offer will be receiving their quarterly payments based on when they started their agreements.

For BPS if you have a payment query, first please wait for your Claim Statement before contacting the RPA.

To query a payment please use the latest version of the BPS Query form on the government's website: GOV.UK | Basic Payment Scheme: payment query form

You can also find more information in our guide to everything you need to know about BPS, including details on key reminders around fraud awareness. 

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Agri-environment scheme changes and reminders

From 1 January 2023, all ES (Environmental Stewardship), HLS (Higher Level Stewardship) and CS (Countryside Stewardship) agreement holders will be on the same domestic Terms and Conditions. The move allows for a simplification of the schemes which in turn will help to create greater flexibility and opportunities for agreement holders, such as switching between schemes, new capital grants opportunities as well as administration changes to help agreement holders.

The RPA should have been in contact with relevant agreement holders about these changes.

Please read our member briefing for more information: NFU | Agri-environment scheme changes, flexibilites and opportunities 

In terms of CS, watch out for more information on the application window opening for new agreements that start on the 1 January 2024, which is expected in February.

Also remember the annual claim needed to ensure a payment is received for the 2023 scheme year for CS, ES and HLS, it is expected to operate from mid-March to mid-May 2023, this includes where a new agreement starts on the 1 January 2023. Current CS capital grants are open all year round.

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Countryside Stewardship Facilitation Fund

A new round of the CS Facilitation Fund is now open for applications until 25 January 2023. 

BPS 2023

This will operate largely as it has done in 2022, for the final time in 2023. We are not expecting to see many changes to the rules for this last year, however we do expect the 2023 guidance to cover a range of issues as the scheme draws to a close at the end of 2023, such as:

  • the ending of entitlements
  • reminder to apply for BPS if an exiting farmer has still not completed a Lump Sum Exit Scheme claim (and are eligible to still claim BPS)
  • the relationship with delinked payments (which will replace BPS in 2024) continuing to progress
  • reductions in payments
  • a split payment approach.

For those wishing to transfer entitlements / land ahead of the BPS 2023 claim window, please watch out for the opening of the window which is expected around the end of January.

The claim window is expected to operate from mid-March to mid-May 2023.

As in 2022, the BPS payment for 2023 will be split into a summer payment from July onwards and a 1 December onwards payment.

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RPA farm visits including cross compliance

Cross compliance continues in 2023; make sure you're aware of the rules: GOV.UK | Cross Compliance 2023

The RPA will continue visit farms and check against the requirements under this compliance mechanism. If you have not had an RPA farm visit recently, then please be aware of some recent changes the RPA have been making to the approach of farm visits.

The RPA will continue with a range of checks on a range of schemes to check compliance. The government has put together some top tips for farmers to on how to prepare for a site visit if you're unsure on what to expect.   

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Delinked Payments 2024

Whilst we await further news on the delivery of direct payments post 2023, which will be in the form of Delinked Payments, it is important to note that in order to access Delinked Payments in 2024 (provided a farmer has a BPS reference value) a farmer needs to claim and be eligible for BPS in 2023.

We hope to see more information on this new scheme in early 2023, in the meantime our team have put together a summary of everything we know so far on Delinked Payments

Lump Sum Exit Scheme

Those farmers that applied for and were deemed eligible to claim under this scheme, and still want to receive the lump sum payment (after any BPS 2022 payments) will need to submit to the RPA the evidence declaration to demonstrate the disposal of land and surrendering of BPS entitlements (via the evidence form).

If an exiting farmer is not in a position to submit this form in early 2023, and is still eligible for BPS in 2023, then claiming BPS is recommended.

Any BPS 2023 payment issued will be taken off the lump sum payment due. 

Productivity Grants – Farming Investment Fund 

There are a number of large grant themes under the Farming Transformation Fund up and running, with farmers who have been given the green light working through the various stages of these opportunities.

In terms of the Farming Equipment and Technology Fund Round 1, the RPA has stated that they are aiming to pay all valid claims by 31 January 2023. This supersedes their originally published aim of 30 working days. This affects farmers who in early December had been processed and excluded those who have received a request for further information.

New opportunities - please be aware of the following:

  • The Slurry Infrastructure Grant initial application window and online checker is currently open and closes on the 31 January.
  • We are awaiting information and the launch of the Farming Equipment and Technology Fund 2023 offer early in 2023. This is expected to covered productivity and slurry equipment items and animal health and welfare items.
  • We are also expecting to see the Farming Transformation Fund water grant theme at some point in early 2023.

More information on the current productivity grants can be found at: NFUonline | Farming Investment Fund Schemes.

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Sustainable Farming Incentive

Details on the current offer for SFI (Sustainable Farming Incentive) can be found at: NFUonline | SFI scheme now open to applications.

We also held a member-exclusive NFU Live Q&A session on future farming schemes with Defra Programme Director for the Future Farming and Countryside Programme, Janet Hughes. 

Annual animal health & welfare paid vet visit

Defra have been testing the first annual health and welfare reviews as part of their Animal Health and Welfare Pathway in recent months.

The current plan is to steadily increase the number of reviews taken place by farmers by invitation, before they open the review to all eligible farmers in January 2023. 

You can read Defra’s latest blog on the next steps for the review at: Defra | SFI annual health and welfare review

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Future Farming Resilience Fund – reminder

Access to free and confidential business support to farmers during the early years of the transition who currently receive BPS is now open.

Grants have been awarded to known third party organisations who, in turn, help farmers to; understand the changes that are happening, identify how, what and when they may need to adapt their business models, and how to access tailored support to adapt.

It is important to remember that this offer is aimed at looking at the farming business, not necessarily the access to support payments. For more information please refer to our FFRF (Future Farming Resilience Fund) guide

If you are unsure about engaging with a provider, please refer to the information online. Defra do state that you are welcome to get introductory help and information from multiple providers and you can attend as many opening webinars or workshops as you like, but you can only receive detailed one-to-one support from a single provider.

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Key resources

RPA Flooding advice for farmers - The RPA have recently updated their guidance to cover SFI; it gives information for farmers whose land has been flooded on a range of schemes and activity. 

RPA Mapping – Two recent blogs to have a read through:

2023 Scheme Key dates – Watch out for this helpful document when it is published in the early weeks of 2023 on GOV.UK.


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