From Monday 6th February 2017 commoners will be put directly through to the RPA Commons Team when they ring the RPA Helpline. This is a most welcome development as it has been frustrating for commoners not to be able to speak to someone who understands their claim.” Commoners should call the normal helpline number, 0300 0200 301, and state clearly that they wish to be transferred to the Commons Team.
As of 2nd February RPA stated they have made payments on 85.2% of 2016 BPS claims that include common land. This leaves approximately 550 commoners still to receive a payment for 2016. Many of these claimants also have issues unrelated to the common land that need to be resolved. Reviewing of 2015 claims and top ups where required also continues.
A particular challenge with BPS on commons has been the inability to view maps. The Foundation for Common Land continues to press Defra and the RPA to improve the functionality of their systems so the maps are viewable on line and full breakdowns of claims provided. The RPA has informed us they have completed the remapping exercise and will be updating the data on gov.uk to reflect the revised eligible area of each common. Once this is available commoners will be able to estimate the individual payment they can expect.
Commoners provide many benefits to society through their management of common land and should be properly rewarded for this role. BPS is currently essential to enable farmers to maintain these public benefits and we welcome Paul Caldwell’s commitment to keep going until all 2015 and 2016 payments have been paid in full on common land.