A number of our farming and landowner clients have had problems with the online Basic Payment Scheme, particularly the mapping element, and it was increasingly clear that the system was not fit-for-purpose.
The RPA announced on Thursday 19 March that the online system would be replaced by the tried and trusted paper application system version. Farmers will not be asked to enter any further data online now, although data that has already been entered onto the system has been saved and will be used.
Any farmer or landowner who has not managed to successfully navigate the online system will now need to make a paper-based application. The blank BPS claim form and the RLE1 form can be downloaded here: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/rural-payments-agency
The RPA suggests that farmers who need to map new features should use the blank form to prepare their claim. The RPA will then send out pre-populated forms during April for completion and submission before the end of the application window. Forms can be sent through the post or submitted at one of the RPA drop-in centres.
On the subject of the application deadline, there was confirmation from Parliament today (24 March) that the deadline has been extended to 15 June, giving an extra month for claims to be completed.
For farm businesses with little change to their land and with straightforward claims, for example if you are exempt from greening measures; have fewer than 10 hectares, or at least 75 per cent permanent pasture; you will have the option of being fast-tracked and should receive an email from the RPA during April.
Even though your claim will now be made using the paper system you do still need to register. If you are one of the 15% of farmers and landowners who are still to register, you can call the RPA helpline on 03000 200 301.