More than 95% of farmers in England received their 2020 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) money on the first day of the payment window, the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has announced.
The agency said that, despite the challenges faced by coronavirus this year, it was on track to achieve its best-ever payment performance. Approximately £1.671billion was paid to farmers for BPS on the first day of the payment window, which runs from December to June, a further improvement on 2019 where £1.192 billion was released.
In addition eligible farmers were issued Countryside Stewardship (CS) revenue payments totalling £40m; and Environmental Stewardship (ES) payments totalling £60m are expected within the first few days of the window. The agency said this was an improvement on 2019 where no payments were released.
Those who claimed CS and ES agreements in 2020 will receive one full payment this year as part of a wider plan to deliver a better service to farmers and land managers.
This is the first year that these payments have been funded directly by the UK Government rather than by the EU.
This will be the last year of the BPS in its current form, with payments set to be gradually reduced from next year to fund the new ‘public goods’ agenda as the seven-year agricultural transition gets underway.
This money will be used to fund new grants and schemes to boost productivity and reward environmental improvements. Support and advice will be available to help those most affected by the phasing out of Direct Payments during the agricultural transition period.
RPA Chief Executive Paul Caldwell said: “2020 has been a challenging year for many and I have been really pleased at the progress we have made which has resulted in this level of performance despite the difficulties presented by coronavirus. This is testament to the hard work of people within the agency and the measures we have taken to further simplify CS.”
Farming Minister Victoria Prentis said she ‘delighted’ that the efforts of the RPA during this difficult year has resulted in more farmers getting their payments quickly.
Stopping fraudulent activity
Claimants are also urged to remain vigilant against fraud. They should remember:
- Your bank, police or the RPA will never ask you to reveal your online password, PIN or bank account details or ask you to make a payment over the telephone.
- Never disclose personal information to someone you don’t know or open unknown or unexpected computer links or emails.
- If in doubt, call the organisation back, ideally on a different telephone, using a number you are familiar with or you know to be official. You can find this on the organisation’s website, correspondence or statement.
Contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 without delay for advice and to register your concern.