More than a quarter of eligible farm businesses in England have registered on the new online Rural Payments service for the new Basic Payment Scheme, according to the Rural Payments Agency.
Up until now, the service has been introduced gradually to customers, starting with small groups at a time so that the Agency can monitor how well the system is working, but registration has now been thrown open to all farmers and landowners who wish to claim rural payments.
The latest figures show that by last Monday nearly 21,000 customers and agents had registered representing more than 22,500 farm businesses.
Emma Appleby, the Agency’s design director, said: “The new Rural Payments online service is the only way to claim your money this year so you need to make sure you register. This applies to everyone who wants to make a claim, even those previously registered for the former Single Payment Scheme, and we urge you to do it as soon as possible to give yourself time to complete it.
“We know that some people will need help applying online and we have put in place a range of ways to help them including by telephone, through local farming and specialist IT organisations and, for those who need it, 50 support centres throughout the country.”
The Agency was criticised by the National Farmers’ Union towards the end of January, when the union’s vice president Guy Smith said he was concerned that the roll out for online registrations was still to reach 90 per cent of people, as of January 20.
For help applying for payments, visit www.gov.uk/ruralpayments or call 03000 200 301.