Last chance for farmers as Basic Payment Scheme deadline looms

A farmer ploughing his field near Aylsham. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

A farmer ploughing his field near Aylsham. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

With Monday's deadline fast approaching for subsidy applications, a 'last chance' plea has been issued for farmers to take advantage of the help available for their applications.

Some drop-in centres have extended their opening hours to assist with the last few days before Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) applications need to be received by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA).

The RPA's customer director Justin Chamberlain said: 'At this stage, farmers and agents are advised to hand in their claim form at their nearest drop-in centre or mobile support unit, rather than rely on the postal service. If you do decide to post, be sure to use a signed-for, next-day delivery service.

'If you have already posted your form to us, from this week you can now check if we have received it by using our automated service. Call our helpline on 03000 200 301 and have your SBI (Single Business Identifier number) ready.'

Farmers taking their forms direct to a drop-in centre will be offered a basic check-and-receipt service to ensure applicants have included their Single Business Identifier (SBI) number, land data, filled in the active farmer section and signed the declaration. Agents with five or more claims should book an appointment via the Rural Payments helpline on 03000 200 301.

Ben Underwood, East regional director for the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), said: 'The June 15 deadline is looming and it is now 'last chance' territory for anyone that still wants to claim Basic Payment in England.

'We are encouraging members who have yet to finalise their applications to use the support that is available to make sure they do not miss out.

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'For every day late beyond 15 June that a claim is submitted, the claimant will see a one percent penalty reduction of their payment – and after 10 July the claimant will have missed out completely.

'We are also advising our members to ensure that adequate postage is paid and posted forms are sent via recorded delivery, and to look out for their submission receipt from the RPA so that there is no nasty surprise when the payments are made.

'Our focus over the coming weeks is to continue pressing for assurance that the problems with the application process will not translate into payment delays, and to continue discussions with the banks and revenue authorities about how they will help farm businesses if delays do happen.'

The RPA drop in centres at Dragonfly House on Gilders Way in Norwich, and at the Cefas laboratory on Pakefield Road in Lowestoft will both be open during office hours on Friday and Monday. The nearest centres due to open at the weekend are in Cambridge, Ipswich and Peterborough.

For more information, call the RPA helpline on 03000 200 301 or click here.