Failure over crofters’ payments admitted
The Scottish government has admitted failing to provide the majority of its support payments to crofters and farmers by the end of last month – the self-imposed deadline the SNP-led authority said it would adhere to.
Scottish Rural Affairs Minister Richard Lochhead has admitted 70 per cent of contributions through the new basic payments scheme had not been provided.
Isles MSP Tavish Scott says the shortfall has left uncertainty hanging over 900 crofting businesses in Shetland alone.
He plans to raise the issue in the Scottish Parliament tomorrow.
“Crofters across Shetland are facing real cash flow difficulties. I am very worried by the present situation. These payments are very important to crofters. Yet most of Shetland’s 900 croft businesses do not know when they will receive any support payment nor how much they will get. Therefore, I hope to raise this with the agriculture minister in Edinburgh this week.”
NFU chiefs, including the organisation’s president, Allan Bowie, are due to discuss the issue during a visit to the isles on Thursday.
In a statement, Mr Lochhead said: “The Scottish government has already made more than 5,000 payments – which is almost 30 per cent of the 18,000 or so eligible claims – with more initiated to arrive in the coming days. “The first instalments we have paid are worth approximately 80 per cent of the value of Basic and Greening – much higher than the 70 per cent originally promised.
“I share the industry’s disappointment and frustration that we are not making faster progress, and I recognise the need to take further action to speed up payments. That is why I have instructed the deployment of additional staff to area offices and for applications to be processed seven days a week, and I will now ensure the Scottish Parliament and industry are updated more regularly on progress.”
• See more reaction in this week’s Shetland Times.