English BPS Entitlements User Guide

What is needed to claim BPS payments?

You must be eligible and have eligible land

To be eligible to claim payment under the Basic Payment Scheme a claimant must:

  • Have at least 5 ha of eligible agricultural land;
  • Hold enough entitlements to match their eligible agricultural land. These must also be the appropriate entitlements for their English region, and then the correct type of entitlements for the land they farm within that region (i.e. Non-SDA, SDA or SDA Moorland) when making a claim. New Entrants or Young Farmers may be able to apply to the National Reserve to be allocated new entitlements, see how here;
  • Be undertaking eligible “agricultural” activity on the eligible land that they are declaring to activate entitlements via a BPS claim;
  • Have the land at their disposal on the 15th May (or the next working day if this is a weekend) in the year of the claim, and remain eligible for the full calendar year;
  • Have declared any individual field to be at least 0.1 hectares to activate BPS entitlements (except for common land).
  • Submit a BPS claim (online or on paper) by the 15th May deadline.

You no longer need to:

  • be an ‘active farmer’ if the majority of your land is in England (the Active Farmer requirement has now been removed from the English scheme and has been relaxed in Scotland and Northern Ireland. It still applies in full for the Welsh scheme);
  • Meet all Cross Compliance rules, from 2020 the crop diversification rule no longer applies. EFA and permanent grassland rules will still apply. At least 5% equivalent area of ecological focus area must be maintained if you have more than 15 ha of arable land.

The “Greening” element of the BPS payment (approx. 30% of the total), will continue to be paid if EFA and grassland rules are followed.

What payment can you expect?

The 2021 payments should also be similar to 2020 (although possibly with a small percentage reduction subject to the Agriculture Bill passing through Parliament, and also subject to the size of your annual claim.

The 2020 BPS entitlement values and greening payments were confirmed by the RPA on the 3rd November 2020, as shown below:

English Region  BPS   Greening   Entitlement Value
£ £ £
 Non-SDA 182.70 162.771 79.07 70.445 €261.77 £233.22
 SDA 181.34 161.559 78.58 70.008 €259.92 £231.57
 SDA Moorland 49.76 44.332 22.02 19.618 €71.78 £63.95

(It has been a flat rate for each English region since 2015)

The BPS 2020 exchange rate is: €1 = £0.89092.

Financial Discipline Mechanism

Entitlements are are no longer subject to the Financial Discipline Mechanism for 2020 and at least 2021.

The 2019 figures were subject to the Financial Discipline Mechanism (FDM) reduction (to create an “emergency” fund), which was confirmed to be 1.432635% by the RPA. This reduction was applied to all payments made above €2,000, and was be refunded if the funds are not used.

Rates before the FDM were:

English Region 2014 £/ha excluding  1.3% FDM  2015 £/ha excluding 1.39%  FDM 2016 £/ha excluding 1.35% FDM 2017 £/ha excluding 1.39% FDM 2018 £/ha excluding 1.41% FDM 2019 £/ha excluding 1.43% FDM 2020 £/ha No FDM
Non-SDA   £ 195.41   £ 181.37 £ 215.61   £ 230.97 £ 231.70 £ 232.88 £233.22
SDA   £ 156.49   £ 180.07 £ 214.06   £ 228.88 £ 229.93 £ 231.15 £231.57
Moorland   £   27.41   £   47.58 £56.56   £ 63.48 £ 62.70 £ 63.42 £63.95

How do you sell entitlements?

If you are looking to sell English entitlements please see our Seller’s guide here and some of the entitlements wanted here. If you are looking to sell Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish entitlements please contact Alasdair Squires (email).

How do you buy entitlements?

If you are looking to buy English entitlements please see our Buyer’s guide here and some of the entitlements available here. If you are looking to buy Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish entitlements please contact Alasdair Squires (email).

How do you make your BPS claim?

If you would like further information on how to complete your BPS claim see here or contact Mark Burton (email).

What to watch out for if you are a landlord, outgoing or incoming tenant involved in transferring entitlements

Problems can arise between landlords and outgoing or incoming tenants, agreeing a transfer of entitlements although both parties tend to have their own agents negotiating a transfer price for them. See here for what you should watch out for.

What to watch out for if your farm consultant or agent is buying or selling your entitlements from/to another of their clients

Problems can arise between landlords and outgoing or incoming tenants, agreeing a transfer of entitlements although both parties tend to have their own agents negotiating a transfer price for them. See here for what you should watch out for.

BPS Transition

The Agriculture Bill prepares the way for England to move to the Environmental Land Management Scheme.

The payment reduction bands for BPS in England up to 2024 will effectively function like income tax, with the first band of reductions applied to the first £30,000 taken from scheme, the next to the next £20,000, and so on.

Payment Band

Scheme year

2021 2022 2023 2024
<£30,000 5% 20% 35% 50%
£30,000-£50,000 10% 25% 40% 55%
£50,000-£150,000 20% 35% 50% 65%
>£150,000 25% 40% 55% 70%


The rule in which BPS entitlements must be claimed upon every 2 years or else be clawed back by the RPA will no longer apply “to the 2021 scheme” in England.

De-linkage is, subject to consultation, planned to apply from 2024, not as early as 2022 as is possible under the Agriculture Act 2020.

From 2022 DEFRA intends, subject to consultation to offer an “exit scheme” where some retiring farmers can receive a lump sum payment in place of Direct Payments (whether under the BPS or delinked payments) they would have been entitled to receive during the remainder of the transition.

See below the link for our guesstimate of values for possible Exit Support Scheme and De-linkage payments in 2022 and 2024.

Would you like to know more?

For a more in-depth guide you can apply for your free copy of the ebook – UK BPS Entitlements – User Guide more details of which are given below, or to download your free e-book click here. Please note: The e-book is an interactive digital book that cannot be printed.  If you would like to order a hard copy paperback version of the User Guide for £25 (no VAT) including postage please email kdean@townsendcharteredsurveyors.co.uk.

Payments should be sent to Townsend Chartered Surveyors client account, sort code 12-20-26, account no. 06046475 with reference “UG HC” and your name. If ordering a hard copy, please provide details of your postal address.

If you would like to sign up to receive updates on current entitlement trading and information email kdean@townsendcharteredsurveyors.co.uk.

The UK BPS Entitlements User Guide

This is the first definitive guide for those involved with UK entitlements not only in respect to buying and selling, but also how they affect decisions taken by farm businesses and managers of land.

The Guide provides historical insight into agricultural subsidies in the UK which date back to 1932, and how they have evolved into the entitlement system we know today. Following the 2016 UK Referendum it has never been so important to fully understand how the EU Basic Payment Scheme entitlement system works, why it is in place, and how it will influence any new UK subsidy system. One needs to know how previous schemes were developed and worked, and how these may influence the way the UK authorities interpret and manage not only the current scheme, but also design new ones. The authors have made use of their considerable experience running nationwide quota agencies for over 30 years and being involved in the practical implications for farmers and land owners, resolving disputes with the RPA, court and arbitration test cases and the effect entitlements have on all aspects of rural property management. The Guide provides a synopsis of the current entitlement system in the UK, and what should be considered when buying, selling and managing entitlements. This is essential reading for farmers, land owners, land agents, land managers, farm consultants, agricultural solicitors and accountants and those advising farming businesses and landowners.

“Whether you are a practicing farmer, an accountant, a rural surveyor, a student, a land agent – or even an agricultural journalist – this book will become an invaluable tool for understanding the intricacies of agricultural support in the UK.”
Philip Clarke – Executive Editor, Farmers Weekly

“Townsend Chartered Surveyor’s expertise in this complex area is well-respected and this new, much needed, publication will become a ‘bible’ for all practitioners dealing with entitlements, the support system and the Rural Payments Agency. As the UK’s largest multiprofessional organisation devoted to the law and business of the countryside, the Agricultural Law Association are pleased to endorse this book.”
M R Holland MRICS – Agricultural Law Association

“Entitlements to the CAP’s Single and now Basic Payments were created under EU law as another novel asset offering income but with a thicket of rules – and traps. In this guide, Hugh Townsend offers the experience of his specialist practice in handling these varied issues as found in each of the four parts of the UK.”
Jeremy Moody – CAAV Secretary & Adviser

To view some sample pages click here.

Still have some questions or queries?

Email entitlements@townsendcharteredsurveyors.co.uk or ring us on 01392 823935.

Hugh Townsend

Hugh Townsend

01392 823935