TIME is running out for farmers to make their Single Payment Scheme (SPS) applications, Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron has warned.

The window for submitting forms both online and on paper ends on May 15, after which penalties will apply.

Mr Farron, who is the chairman of Parliament’s All-Party Hill Farming Group, said: “At this time of year farmers are really busy so I’m urging them to make sure they get their SPS applications in before the window closes. I don’t want any farmer to miss out.”

The SPS replaced crop and livestock payments in 2005.

Applications, whether online or on paper, must reach the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) by midnight next Thursday to avoid late application penalties.

Once the application has been sent, certain changes can be made in writing or by emailing the agency. But these must be received by midnight on June 2 to avoid penalties.

Applications and changes can be made until midnight on June 9 – however penalties will be applied. Applications received after June 9 will not be accepted.

This year, North West farmers have embraced the digital age by submitting their SPS applications online.

With two weeks to go, around 4,300 forms from the region’s farmers had been received by the RPA.

RPA customer director Justin Chamberlain said: “This is fantastic news and shows just how many of our farmers, landowners and agents see the business benefits of going online.

“That nearly a fifth of those who have already applied for their payments are new to the system proves that more and more people are realising now is the time to make the shift and get ready for a new age in EU payments ahead of CAP Reform implementation.”

The RPA has released two short instructional videos about how to register on the Government Gateway and apply using SPS Online, since local drop-in centres are no longer available.

The videos are viewable on the RPA website or YouTube.

To use the service for the first time, all applicants need to first register on the Government Gateway website - www.gateway.gov.uk