Category Archives: Single Payment Scheme

The ‘Back to Paper Scheme’

Basic Payment Scheme SoftwareWe all though BPS stood for Basic Payment Scheme. Well it seems we were wrong … it appears it stands for Back to Paper Scheme! In an almost unbelievable turn of events DEFRA/RPA have admitted there new multi-million pound system which they have been working on for quite sometime is simply not yet fit for purpose.

Following last year’s problem with their SPS Online system being unavailable for periods (Please note our Single Payment software was fully functional during most of the down periods) this news will only serve to undermine confidence in the ability of RPA to produce a robost and reliable solution to subsidy claims. With the importance of these subsidies to farmers and the farm industry as a whole it is simply not acceptable to offer anything but the best service possible.

We hope RPA get the new system working and give claimants and their agents the solution they deserve. We are still hopeful of being involved with BPS next year but given the lack of communication from RPA we are still unsure.

No Basic Payment Scheme Software!

Farm SoftwareWe are very sad to announce we will not be releasing any software for the electronic submission of Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) applications in 2015. DEFRA in their wisdom have decided to exclude us from the electronic BPS project this year due to what they claim is a lack of financial resources.

This will leave the DEFRA website as the sole means of submitting your 2015 BPS claim (For those unable to submit online DEFRA claim there will be a contingency but what form this will take remains a mystery). After piloting electronic SPS in 2008, it’s inaugural year, we have consistently been involved with e-SPS and submitted the most claims by a third party software supplier each year.

Our customer base have been very supportive of the software and service we’ve provided and are very disappointed by DEFRAs decision to exclude us. As several customers have said, let’s hope the new system being developed is alot more reliable then RPAs was last year.

DEFRA have indicated they will be happy to work with us next year in preparation for 2016. Hopefully this is true and we will be back!

RPA – Reason for faulty SPS Online found but online applications still up

With over 100,00 claims submitted and over 100 a day still being received RPA have proudly informed stakeholders that this year will see approximately 70% of all submissions being made online (3.5% of those come from our Single Payment Supervisor software as RPA include these in their online figures). This is another big step in RPA’s vision of getting everything happening online.

It’s not all good news though, with RPA informing us that the, at times severe, problems they were having with their SPS Online website were in fact caused by a corruption in file transmission whenever RPA issued an update. Attempts by RPA to keep customers informed were in fact contributing the continuation of the problem. RPA have acknowledged that this caused significant issues but it will still leave a shadow of disappointment for those left racing to submit forms at the last minute.

Single Payment Scheme – The End

Single Payment Supervisor The submission deadline passed on 15th May with the final deadline of 9th June quickly approaching. Anyone who has not submitted a claim should do so as a matter of urgency, the penalties are relatively small at 1% of your payment per day late. This year spells the end of the Single Payment Scheme as the new Basic Payment Scheme will finally come into operation.

Initially introduced in 2005 the Single Payment Scheme replaced the many and varied existing subsidy schemes. The scheme saw a gradual transition from payment based on production to payment based on hectares. Some farmers saw there subsidy increase while other saw it reduce over the years, but one thing all agreed was that the new scheme was simpler than it’s predecessors. In 2008 an electronic submission method was trialled with ourselves submitting the first ever SPS application using our Single Payment Supervisor software. RPA have encouraged adoption of online services over the last six years with 2014 seeing a high proportion of SPS submissions being made electronically. Despite the serious technical problems encountered by RPA this year, online services have (in our estimation at least) been a success in helping to improve the efficiency of RPA and offering the modern tools expected by farmers & land agents these days.

Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), with it’s Digital by Default policy, Identity Assurance approach and new rules promises to be as different as it is familiar. We are working alongside RPA to develop our software package ready for the challenges of BPS. This year saw ~3.5% of the nation’s submissions made using our software, we hope to continue our tradition of being at the forefront of electronic subsidy submissions.

Good bye Single Payment Scheme,
Hello Basic Payment Scheme.

Single Payment 2014 underway

Yesterday saw the SPS e-Channel go live for 2014. This is six days earlier than RPA have ever gone live before giving farmers and land agents longer to complete their applications. As usual you have until 15th May to complete all your applications without penalty.

Our Single Payment Supervisor software has already been used to download hundreds of forms, with a few early birds having submitted applications too. As with previous years our software is significantly faster than using SPS Online and offers a host of other features.

If you are struggling with your Single Payment Scheme application or want piece of mind that it has been completed correctly we recommend you get professional advice from a reputable land agent such as Countryside Consulting Ltd (01409 281 038).

SPS payments reduced 4% – In one hand out the other

Single Payment Supervisor It has been confirmed by the European Commision that 2013 SPS payments will be cut by four percent for those receiving over £1,700. Why? There simply isn’t enough money in the Common Agricultural Policy budget to cover the payments across the European Union (EU), in fact they estimate they are €1.47 billion short.

Some conciliation can be found in the fact this reduction will be offset with the higher 4.76% exchange rate. The reality though sees farmers getting less than they expected from the Common Agricultural Policy.

Maybe this is something farmers need to get used to with the EU cutting farm spending over the next several years. As a result maybe we should all need to get used to paying more for our milk, beef, lamb and pork?

Cross Compliance breaches cost farmers £1.4 million in 2012

RPA have released figures showing that farmers have seen their SPS (Single Payment Scheme) payments reduced by £1.4 million for failing to comply with the Cross Compliance regulations.

Of the 1,947 breaches, the most common was failing to report cattle deaths or movements, at 670 breaches. It is important to not only keep accurate records but to report them to BCMS in a timely manner. Reporting movements and deaths is easy with a host of options: CTS Online, CTS Self-Service Helpline or our personal favourite, Farm Matters.

The number of NVZ (Nitrate Vulnerabel Zone) breaches have almost trebled from 72 to 205 in 2012. We understand the NVZ regulations appear complicated but RPA will not accept this as a reason for failure to keep the accurate and up to date records. If you struggle with NVZ record keeping either use our farmer friendly software, NVZ Matters, or contact a qualifed professional, such as Countryside Consulting Ltd (01409 281 038).

Can you afford to lose 5% of your SPS payments? No! Ensure you keep your Cross Compliance records accurate and up to date.

Single Payment Supervisor off and running

Today Single Payment Supervisor Online went live. Already we have had many customers downloading forms and several claim submissions.

Remember if you’ve used the online system before RPA will no longer send you a paper copy of your form, although you can request one by contacting them. For those who haven’t used the online system before (I recommend Single Payment Supervisor for this) your paper forms should follow soon and also include your PIN letters needed to use the online service.

Unfortunately for agents who don’t have a PIN number for this service already you cannot request a new PIN until 7th March when RPA switch the required system back on.

Single Payment Supervisor faster than SPS Online?

Single Payment SupervisorIn 2012 we analysed sixteen Single Payment Scheme claims (we know it isn’t exactly a major study but we did at least vary the complexity of the claims) comparing how long they took to complete on paper compared to using Single Payment Supervisor and found it was 48.2% faster using our software.

We had hoped to compare Single Payment Supervisor to SPS Online but time wasn’t on our side, however we managed three comparisons. Please note this is definitely too small a sample group to draw solid conclusions! The tests involved completing the claims but not actually submitting them.

On average Single Payment Supervisor was 28.6% faster than SPS Online. This was due to the significantly better responsiveness of Single Payment Supervisor. With SPS Online a lot of time was spent refreshing web pages (Note we used a high speed 20Mb Internet connection).

Once again we must stress that this is too small a sample group from which to draw firm conclusions. That being said the evidence here does support the feedback we have received from customers that our software if faster (and easier) then SPS Online.

Single Payment Scheme Application Period

Single Payment Supervisor

It’s approaching that time of year again (so soon!) where farmers must make they Single Payment Scheme subsidy claim. Land agents are run off their feet and farmers are panicking about making a correct submission. We now understand from RPA that the application period will open on the 26th February (assuming testing doesn’t highlight any issues).

Every year we have our keen Single Payment Supervisor users desperately wanting to know how soon before they can download and submit their SP5 forms. We thought we could investigate how long the submission period has been over the last five years.

2013: 26th February – 15th May (79 days)
2012: 28th February – 15th May (78 days)
2011: 1st March – 16th May (77 days)
2010: 15th March – 17th May (64 days)
2009: 4th March – 15th May (73 days)

Well the results are in and it’s good news. Each year, 2010 excepted, the period in which to make your Single Payment Scheme submission is increasing with six more days available this year than in 2009, an increase of 8%. For the individual farmer this probably doesn’t make too much difference in submitting their one or two applications, however for a land agent filling in dozens if not hundreds of these important claims those extra days are crucial. In conclusion we congratulate RPA on moving in the right direction!