Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) 2015 has been a frustration time for many farmers from applying to payment. With nearly 20,000 payments still to go out for the 2015 year, we continue to press the RPA to make the payments as quickly as possible. We’re very concerned that if farmers are not paid, they won’t be able to move on to 2016 applications with certainty and confidence. We’ve made this clear to the RPA.
Applications for BPS 2016 will open in early March and it will be a combination of online and paper applications, which we welcome. As I write, we haven’t seen the fully working system which, at this late stage, is concerning, but it’s a fast-moving situation.
Ahead of applying, there must be clarity from the RPA on what the capabilities of the online system are. If there are aspects of the application that can only be done on paper, this needs to be made clear before farmers start applying.
The biggest challenge will be expressing to farmers the status of land data used for 2015 claims and what may be presented back to them for 2016. Farmers need the system to be as slick as possible as many are scarred by the IT failure debacle of last year.
Farmers applying will see a new version of the BPS handbook. Policy changes are minimal, but that does not exempt you from reading this key document. Together with revised guidance on how to apply for BPS, it will serve as a reminder for many and will hopefully mean there are no delays, from the farmers’ side at least, when the RPA processes the application.
From the start of BPS we’ve stressed the importance of communication to the RPA – keeping farmers informed should be of paramount importance. This year, it’s doing things differently, so only the guidance on how to complete the form will be issued to all in paper form this year.
We suggest farmers start their application as soon as possible. The deadline this year is Monday 16th May.