Basic Payment Scheme (England)
Basic Payment Scheme (England)

The following Property guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Basic Payment Scheme (England)
  • Introduction
  • Eligibility
  • The active farmer test
  • Agricultural activity
  • Agricultural area
  • Eligible land
  • BPS entitlements
  • Cross compliance
  • Digressivity
  • more

Brexit: The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020. This has implications for the schemes providing for agricultural subsidies in England and Wales, which will no longer be derived from the EU Common Agricultural Policy. We will introduce content to address the new regimes once the relevant legislation (including the Agriculture Bill) has been enacted.


Under Pillar 1 of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), farmers receive direct subsidy payments under the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), which started in 2015. The BPS replaced the Single Payment Scheme (SPS).

The BPS, which is administered by the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) in England, involves three compulsory direct payments:

  1. a ‘basic’ BPS payment

  2. a greening payment (accounting for 30% of the total BPS amount received by a farmer)

  3. a top-up payment for young farmers


A farmer qualifies for BPS if they:

  1. are an ‘active farmer’

  2. have at least five hectares of ‘eligible’ land

  3. have at least five BPS entitlements

The active farmer test

The two elements within the active farmer test are:

  1. agricultural activity, and

  2. agricultural area

Agricultural activity

The general rule is that a farmer cannot be classed as an ‘active farmer’ if they operate any of the following (known as ‘the negative list’) on their land:

  1. railway services

  2. airports

  3. waterworks

  4. real estate services

  5. permanent sport and