HLS and uniform start dates

We have received the following from Steve Lund, Delivery Manager, Natural England, Cumbria

I want to make sure that the Federation of Cumbria Commoners and its members are aware of the upcoming changes to payments for HLS agreements which have been publicised over the last few months but which will have a considerable impact on some agreements.

As you may be aware, the New Environmental Land Management Scheme (NELMS) has a uniform start date of 1 January each year and payments for management are also tied into this 1 January start date.

Currently, we have monthly start dates for Environmental Stewardship agreements and payment roughly every 6 months after this start date. This will change from 1 January 2015 and agreement payment dates will move as a result of the Uniform Start Date requirement, but over the life of an agreement total payment will remain as originally proposed. This change is being made to comply with the requirements of the European Commission and prevent future financial penalties being applied to the UK.

All affected agreement holders have received a letter highlighting this change. The effect of this change (i.e. whether they receive payments earlier or later) will depend on the month your agreement started. As a general rule:

  • Customers with agreements which start in February to June will receive a lower payment in 2015 and this will be slightly later than originally scheduled.
  • Customers with agreements which start in July to December will receive an extra payment in 2015.

From 2016 onwards an agreement will continue to receive 2 payments, paid by June and December.

In general, 34% of agreement holders will experience negative impact in 2015 - those with agreements which start in months February to June in the years 2007 to 2014.  The ramifications will vary depending on the agreement start month: the negative impact increases incrementally from February (- 8%) to June starts (- 42%). 

Attached is a link to a Q and A document explaining the situation, and a payment timing tool which will allow individuals to work out how much better or worse off they will be in 2015.

·       Uniform Start Dates and Alignment of payments in 2015 – Q&A

·       Payment Timing Tool - to show how individual agreements are affected


Agreement holders will get a further, more detailed, letter in November detailing how this change will affect their cashflow. In Cumbria, some of the commons will experience significant changes to their cashflow.

I am sure your members are aware of this change, but it is worth them accessing the payment tool to understand in more detail, what the effects will be on their individual agreements.

Best wishes.



Stephen Lund

Delivery Manager, Natural England, Cumbria

07789 032229