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An update on payments for our land schemes

December is an important time of the year for farming communities and the Agency. We started to release payments on our land schemes (Basic Payment Scheme, Countryside Stewardship and Environmental Stewardship) annual claims from 1 December. This represents the culmination of efforts from many people across the Agency. We’ve announced today that we’ve delivered a strong opening payment performance, in particular on BPS, and I am proud of our efforts. But I thought it may be helpful to add a little more colour.

Limestone farming landscape near Littondale in the Yorkshire Dales

We get the annual applications/claims in spring each year. They are then run through a series of checks which help us validate and verify the claim data with the control data we hold. Where there are differences, these are investigated and resolved by our teams allowing the claim to flow through to payment. For some claims we need to undertake further work, for example: to include the outcome of inspection results; allocate common land; and ask for additional information from farmers and land managers. Once these actions are completed the claims are ready for payment.

I know from first-hand the importance of these payments to the rural economy. While the payment window runs between December and June, every year, we always strive to pay as promptly as we can. If the claim is ready, we pay it.

That said, it can take longer to complete our checks for some claims. There are a number of reasons for this additional time. The allocation of common land can be a complex process while we allocate the available area to those claiming on the common; sometimes the outcome of inspections can take time to consider and establish the impact on the claim and/or agreement; we can’t progress some claims as they are reliant on the completion of legal work, such as probate; and some just take time as a result of their size.

Our payment performance on BPS has improved since its introduction in 2015. We have also increased the number of full payments to CS and ES claimants earlier, since we took on the schemes in 2018. Our performance for 2021 has seen another improvement step.

Tractor in a field near Saltfleetby, Lincolnshire

This year is also different for another reason. Direct Payments in England will be phased out starting from this year (2021) through to 2027. The approach is designed to help everyone manage the transition away from Direct Payments as smoothly as possible. The same amount will be available to the farming sector in every year of this Parliament, though the way it is distributed will change. Funds will be redirected straight back into Countryside Stewardship and our new schemes. More details can be found on the Rural payments and grants page on GOV.UK.

Progressive reductions will be made to Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments from this year’s (2021) scheme year and then to delinked payments when these replace BPS in 2024. We have produced a helpful tool that shows how your BPS payments may decrease over the agricultural transition period and is worth a look if you believe you have not had what you were expecting. We will be sending out claim statements that will also give you some additional information which will be helpful. If this still shows a difference you can use our BPS query process to get in touch.

We plan to get as many payments paid as promptly as possible, but I know that in certain instances there can be the need for support. We’ve been working with the farming help organisations and banking representatives on how we can work together to help.

We’ll provide a further update early in the new year.

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  1. Comment by Rodge posted on

    In other you are doing what you are paid to do. RAB

    • Replies to Rodge>

      Comment by Sandy Kapila posted on

      Rodge, indeed but that doesn’t detract from acknowledging the efforts.

  2. Comment by Rozanne Kidd posted on

    A great summary of a strong RPA performance achieved through proactive team work and customer focus with more of course to come to support our rural communities.

    • Replies to Rozanne Kidd>

      Comment by Sandy Kapila posted on

      Rozanne, thanks.

  3. Comment by Robert Curtis posted on

    Hi a slightly different slant on the future but can you tell me if there will be any monetary advantage to be in the organic sector in years to come ? As greening is now phased out especially. Will there be specific financial incentives to go or be Organic?

    • Replies to Robert Curtis>

      Comment by Sandy Kapila posted on

      Robert, I think Defra policy colleagues are acutely aware of the great work that organic farmers do for the environment. I think proposals are still being considered.

      • Replies to Sandy Kapila>

        Comment by Rob curtis posted on

        Thank you Sandy. Glad it’s on the agenda. Our farm has been organic for a lot of years and the difference in the amount of wildlife it attracts is unbelievable. But it is expensive and costs to be organic. Membership of the soil association and specialist soil protection etc etc the list goes on but we try and stick with it.

  4. Comment by Hilary Perkins posted on

    Great that you continue to make progress on BPS but we are awaiting transfer of a CSS agreement requested back in March so clearly that improvement does not cover all areas of the service. Also no payment for CSS for other agreements which did not need to be transferred. So from my perspective no need for a pat on the back yet and its not the staff fault I know the IT has caused problems and there just arent enough people to deal with queries.

    • Replies to Hilary Perkins>

      Comment by Sandy Kapila posted on

      Hilary, I’m sorry to hear that. I don’t know if you are on Twitter but if you want to DM me your details I can find out what’s going on. You can find me on @KapilaSandy.

  5. Comment by Malcolm CROFT posted on

    Lets have some clarity on the way forword. Too much money lost in admin

    • Replies to Malcolm CROFT>

      Comment by Sandy Kapila posted on

      Malcolm, I agree that there is more work to do to set out the detail for the Agricultural Transition Period. This started last week and there will be more in the early part of 2022.

  6. Comment by NICHOLA MOOR posted on

    Thanks for the update. Your team have done well in making payments at the beginning of December.

    • Replies to NICHOLA MOOR>

      Comment by Sandy Kapila posted on

      Nichola, thank you for the feedback. Our teams will be delighted to hear this.

  7. Comment by Clive Bewley posted on

    We received our BPS claim in full and bang on time for which we are grateful, which will help us make plans for the next 12 months and get used to the reductions as they progress and also make sure we get capital intensive items ( machinery ) purchased prior to the reducing amounts we will receive in the next three years. The relative slow reduction in BPS is appreciated as it could have been reduced much more quickly having now left the EU as well as the reduction of government finances diverted to the pandemic and its implications on business support as a whole.

    As an Upland Farm it now leaves us to navigate our way around the new schemes CS,SSI, and ELM where applicable to us. We appreciate that in these changing times and the demise of BPS that Defra is going to have to find its own way around those schemes too, train staff as well which will require a lot of work in these difficult times. Once again many thanks for the payment.

    • Replies to Clive Bewley>

      Comment by Sandy Kapila posted on

      Clive, thank you.

  8. Comment by Denise Seely posted on

    I received my BPS on time, thank you - a little less than I thought but have not yet received my CS HT claim. I suspect this is because there were a lot of queries brought about my a new CSHT application starting Jan 2022 and a woodland scheme appllication. I was advised by the FC to change my parcels and reserve them for the woodlands despite not knowing if I would qualify for the grant. I tried to resist, thinking it not wise. This has caused me a HUGE HUGE hassle (75 hec of farm) so I have to deal with it myself. I am still awaiting a resolution but losing the will to live with all the paperwork !!!! The RPA have been helpful.

    • Replies to Denise Seely>

      Comment by Sandy Kapila posted on

      Denise, I'm sorry that you've had lots of hassle and pleased that we've been helpful.

      • Replies to Sandy Kapila>

        Comment by Denise Seely posted on

        Not helpful enough, sadly!! I still have not received my CS HT claim!