As management of schemes transfers from the EU to the UK Government, Will Wallis sheds light on options available to those submitting applications.
What is happening with BPS, Stewardship and subsidies in the next few years?
It's still unclear what will happen to BPS payments over the coming years. We know that payments will gradually be phased out between 2021 and 2027 by between 5% and 25%. (those who receive up to £30,000 per year will lose 5% and those who receive more than £150,000 per year will lose 25%). However, there is as yet no indication of how payments will be calculated beyond 2027.
The UK Government will take over management of the BPS scheme and finances from the EU in 2021. The government have confirmed that money saved through a reduction in BPS payments will be reinvested in environmental schemes, to put ‘public money’ back into ‘public goods’.
This replacement scheme will be known as the ELMS (Environmental Land Management Scheme) and is due to be introduced in 2024. The Government and DEFRA are in the early planning stages, and it is thought that ELMS will be a three-tiered scheme with similar characteristics to the current mid and higher tier scheme.
So, what happens between 2021 and 2024?
5 year, mid and higher tier Countryside Stewardship agreements continue to be offered. However, by committing to these agreements, there is a risk that you may not be able to enter into the new ELMS – this has not been made clear.
As a firm, we saw more clients take up successful Countryside Stewardship grants last year, and a vast improvement in DEFRA’s management of the scheme.
Farmers and land owners are able to apply to mid-tier Countryside Stewardship this year. We cannot tell you if this is the right or wrong thing to do, but we can certainly discuss the potential advantages and disadvantages based our current understanding of the options available.
With the uncertainty in the economy globally a number of farmers need to be evaluating at how dependent they are on BPS and stewardship payments.
Finally, there are again reports of incorrect payments from 2019, so do check that you have been paid correctly!