The Basic Payment Scheme

What is the Basic Payment Scheme?

The Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) is the biggest of the European Union’s rural grants and payments to help the farming industry under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). It replaced the Single Payment Scheme in 2015.

Farmers apply once a year – usually in May – and payments begin in December.

In England, the BPS is administered by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA), which is an executive agency of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

Who is eligible to claim under the BPS?

Farmers with at least five hectares of agricultural land and five ‘entitlements’ can apply for BPS.

Active farmer

They must be ‘active farmers’ which means:

  • they must not carry out any of the non-agricultural business activities on the negative list (airports, railway services, waterworks, real estate services and permanent sport and recreational grounds – these are not considered to be agricultural activities);
  • if they do carry out such an activity, they can still apply if they fulfil one of the re-admission criteria (this includes having at least 36 hectares of eligible land or that their total agricultural receipts are at least 40% of their total receipts);
  • they received €5,000 or less in direct payments for the previous year.


In England, entitlements were allocated by the government to farmers who made a successful claim during the first year of the SPS (2005) on the basis of the area of land farmed.

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For more information on:

  • Agricultural land and agricultural activity
  • Cross-compliance
  • Greening