The application window for the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) and the claim window for existing Countryside Stewardship (CS) revenue and Environmental Stewardship (ES) agreements have been opened today (Tuesday, March 14) by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA).

Direct payments, currently paid through BPS, are being steadily phased out through to 2027 as the government introduces the Environmental Land Management schemes.

As part of this process, the UK government plans to replace BPS with delinked payments based on a farmer’s average BPS payments for the 2020 to 2022 scheme years.

The payments will be reduced each year as they are phased out and farmers must claim and be eligible for BPS payments in the 2023 scheme year to receive delinked payments for 2024 to 2027.

All farmers must submit a claim or annual declaration for CS and ES to receive payment for works carried out in 2023.

RPA chief executive Paul Caldwell said: “I know the importance of cashflow to rural businesses at this time.

“I am pleased that we have continued to achieve a strong performance to help farmers deliver sustainable food production alongside environmental actions to enhance and support nature.

“I encourage all eligible farmers to submit their applications and claims as soon as possible to ensure that no one misses out.”

Last year, BPS advance payments were made in the summer for the first time with the aim of helping farmers with their cashflow, with balance payments made from December.

This change to the BPS payment cycle will continue and this year advance payments of around 50% of the total will be made from the start of August 2023.

Cross compliance will end after the 2023 scheme year and will not apply to delinked payments, although the vast majority of strong legal standards for the environment and animal health and welfare will continue and these will be enforced in a fair and proportionate way, the government said.

For 2023 the RPA has supplemented the existing online claim process for CS with a more straightforward annual declaration option in cases where no changes are required, it said.

This will be available in the rural payments service, with farmers able to generate and submit an automated revenue claim without needing to complete each section of the claim form.