Respond to your 28 day letter immediately and you can expect your commons BPS Payment in April

The following is a press release from the Foundation for Common Land

The RPA has sent out requests for further information from commoners with a 28 day response deadline. The majority of common land units have had at least one request. The response period for many commons ends by 23rd March 2016. It is essential all commoners respond by their given deadline to ensure their claim is paid promptly and in full. Only once this information has been processed for every claimant on a common can any commoners on that common be paid. The consequence is most commoners can expect payments arriving from mid April onwards; not March as Mark Grimshaw told parliament.

To date only approximately 5% of commoners have been paid leaving over 4,500 still awaiting their payment. These commoners look after England’s most designated and highly valued resource – common land. 58% of common land is SSSI and over 80% is in designated landscapes – National Parks and AONBs.

The Foundation for Common Land is a registered charity seeking to improve the public benefits from grazed common land. Essential to delivering this objective is the sustainable management of the uplands by commoners many who run small marginal businesses where BPS represents over 25% of their gross farm income. This money is 4 months later than 2014.

The RPA’s Mark Grimshaw told the Efra committee on the 9th March that he expected 3,500 commons payments to be made by the end of March. His assurances appear optimistic given commoners have until around 23rd March to respond. These responses then need to be processed and queries resolved by the RPA. Only then can claims be batched for payment. It is therefore more likely that we will not see any significant numbers of commons payments received in bank accounts before mid April. Those suffering financial hardship should contact FCN.

Looking to 2016 the Foundation for Common Land, which convenes Defra’s Working Group on BPS on Commons, has heard that common rights on BPS forms will be prepopulated and on line claimants will be able to change their common rights on line. Paper forms will only be sent to those who claimed on paper in 2014. Furthermore RPA have indicated that as commoners claim “rights” not an area the onus to ensure the maps for the common are correct lies with the RPA. Commoners are though encouraged to report errors and shouldn’t claim where the claim is clearly not allowable e.g. the common is now a quarry.  More information on split rights will be available soon.

For further information on Foundation for Common Land please contact Julia Aglionby, 07702 100111 or e-mail julia@foundationforcommonland.org.uk