BPS Submission Period Opens
H&H Land & Estates Provides Key Facts for 2020
The Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) claims submission period opens on 12th March 2020, with the deadline being 15th May 2020. This is also the deadline for transferring land parcels and entitlements, explains Hannah Maynard, Graduate Surveyor for H&H Land & Estates, leading Chartered Surveyors, Agricultural Land Agents and Valuers for the North of England. This year, there will be only a minor change for BPS, in that the scheme will unsurprisingly be funded by the UK Government, rather than the EU. The window when farmers should expect to receive payment is from 1st December to 30th June 2021.
Applicants should use the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) website, wherever possible. The service can be used to apply for rural grants and payments, including BPS, update personal and business details, check and update digital maps of land and give someone permission to act on your behalf, e.g. a land agent. Even if you are not yet applying, it is worth being prepared and checking that all is in order to avoid delays when the time comes.
Changes can still be made after the 15th May submission deadline. Some changes to the application can be made without attracting penalties to the 1st June. The absolute deadline for changes is 9th June, but this will see the claimant attract a penalty.
The Scheme rules are the same as in 2019, but it is important for applicants to read the guidance provided on the www.gov.uk website carefully to ensure that they are compliant, such as:
- Greening - what you need to do to meet the greening rules each year will depend on how much arable land you have (farms that are more than 75% grassland are exempt). There is also a useful ‘Greening Booklet’ provided by the RPA.
- Crop diversification - depending on the amount of arable land you have you may need to grow at least 2 or 3 crops, amounting to certain acreages, to meet the crop diversification rules.
- Ecological Focus Area (EFA) – to meet the rules, your total area of EFA, which is made up of features such as hedges and buffer strip, must add up to the equivalent of at least 5% of your total eligible arable land. You should remember that different features have different ‘weighting’ to count towards EFA.
- Important dates - key dates to note are the crop diversification and fallow period is 1st May to 30th June. Also, hedges, buffer strips and field margins must be present all year.
Commenting on the view to the future, Hannah said:
“Looking forward, 2021 to 2027 will be a transition period, where BPS payments will be reduced each year, and to zero by 2028. There has been a suggestion that a claimant’s remaining years’ BPS payments could be taken as a lump sum, but the details on this so far are limited.
Looking further ahead, a new Government Scheme is proposed to replace both BPS and Countryside Stewardship, which will probably be available from 2025. We do not yet have many details as to how this Scheme will operate so advise all farmers and landowners to regularly review emerging policy and seek professional advice. We advise all businesses to consider the natural capital of their assets; this is likely to be important in the future.”