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Scottish Government Delivers on April Payment Pledge as Beef Calf Payment Run Starts

Union demands that lessons must be learned from debacle

NFU Scotland believes that Scottish Government has virtually fulfilled its pledge to ensure any Scottish farmers and crofters who had not received any support payment by the end of March would receive a nationally-funded payment from the Scottish Government in April.

With a few days left in the month, NFU Scotland understands that virtually all eligible businesses have received, or are about to receive, an element of their support equivalent to approximately 80 percent.

The Union believes that of those businesses as yet unpaid, the majority will receive a notification letter before the end of the month.  There are a small number of complex applications which Scottish Government is struggling to process and they are unlikely to receive any funding by 30 April.  The Union is extending an offer to help any member who finds themselves in this position.

The support payment pledge, made by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to NFU Scotland in March, was in response to the catastrophic delivery of new CAP support to the Scottish industry.  Investment of £178 million in a flawed IT delivery system meant that the vast majority of Scottish farmers and crofters saw payments significantly delayed and a huge hole develop in Scotland’s rural economy.

As part of that pledge, there was a commitment for beef calf scheme payments to be made before the end of April and NFU Scotland also understands that those scheme payments are now underway.  March also saw Scottish Government deliver part payments to those farming in Less Favoured Areas with payments based on 2015 claims.

While the gap in Scotland’s rural economy is slowly being filled, NFU Scotland will be looking to the new Scottish Government after the elections on 5 May to finish the job.  That means the following must be done:

  • Complete the processing of all 2015 applications
  • Finalise all mapping associated with claims
  • Complete the regionalisation process so that every land parcel is allocated to one of the three Scottish regions
  • Fix the entitlement rate associated with each region and issue confirmation of entitlement letters to claimants
  • Deliver balance payments due under the Basic Payment Scheme, Greening, Young Farmers and Less Favoured Areas Scheme
  • Make awards under the National Reserve
  • Deliver payments due under the new Scottish Upland Sheep Support Scheme.

With applications for the 2016 scheme already being submitted, ahead of the 16 May deadline, the Union is looking for a categorical assurance from Scottish Government that the many problems encountered with last year’s scheme will not be repeated and that a clear timetable of when Scottish farmers and crofters can expect payments in the future must be established and adhered to.

NFU Scotland President Allan Bowie commented: “The 2015 payment debacle was wholly unacceptable and Scottish Government’s failure to quickly address its deeply flawed IT delivery system blew a hole in Scotland’s fragile rural economy.

“It took relentless pressure from NFU Scotland and the commitment of members to rally outside the Scottish Parliament on the issue to finally generate a solution to the issue and establish welcome plans to ease the financial pressure on farm businesses and the supply trade.

“We understand that virtually all farmers and crofters have now received a part payment – either through their application being processed through the flawed IT system or secured through a payment from the national pot pledged by the First Minister in March. We expect that figure to rise further in the final few days of April.

“And with beef calf scheme payments now starting, that puts a further £37 million into the rural economy.

“Slowly the £400 million hole in Scotland’s rural economy, which opened up between December 2015 and now, is being filled but the damage to businesses and the stress placed on individuals by Scottish Government was intolerable.

“We now need Scottish Government to quickly finish the job and deliver the balance of the payments.

“With Single Application Forms for 2016 already being submitted and the deadline of May 16 only three weeks away we urge all claimants to press ahead with their applications and not to leave it until the last minute.  

“Last year’s IT failures prompted a deadline extension but signs so far are that the system has markedly improved.  While some of our members have still encountered problems, Scottish Government has been working to rectify them and there appears to be no major issues at this time.

“One of the first jobs for Scotland’s next Cabinet Secretary, once appointed after the 5 May elections, will be to complete the 2015 payment run, ensure SAF 2016 applications go smoothly and to lay down a clear, realistic timetable for payments in the future.”  

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006
 

Date Published:

News Article No.: 105/16


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