Countryside Stewardship & Sustainable Farming Incentive – applications and annual claims

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Every year at Robinson & Hall we complete more applications and annual claims for schemes administered by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA). Despite the Basic Payment Scheme being phased out, the RPA continue to release new schemes which are often complex, especially for those with more than one scheme running concurrently.

Unfortunately throughout the year we are approached by clients with letters from the RPA regarding small mistakes in their claim. Whilst the penalty system has become less draconian since Brexit, payments can be withheld due to errors, even where the scheme requirements have been met. With Countryside Stewardship, an error in one year can lead to that option being removed for future years which can be difficult when options have been chosen to fit a farms cropping rotation.

So far on average we have resolved more than half of the errors made by clients without penalty.

An example of a case that we have recently dealt with and resolved for no penalty was the case of a farmer entering the wrong field number for a rotational option. By explaining the situation to the RPA, and providing the correct information, we were able to satisfy them that the scheme requirements had been met.

This case highlights the importance of having applications and annual claim forms completed, or checked, by a professional. The cost of resolving problems or the penalties that result from mistakes are normally far higher than the cost of having the forms completed or checked professionally.