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BPS delays putting 'intolerable strain' on Scottish farming

The ongoing failure of the Scottish Government and its ‘flawed’ £173 million computer programme to deliver support is placing the Scottish agriculture sector under ‘intolerable strain’, NFU Scotland has warned.


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Less than a quarter of the £393m pot of basic support and greening payments has been delivered so far, leaving a ‘gaping hole of almost £300m missing out of the Scottish rural economy,’ the union said.

 

Part payments

 

In the past week, fewer than 900 Scottish farmers and crofters received Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) part payment, meaning more than 8,000 have now received part payments.

 

But most, about 10,000, are still to receive a single penny, some of whom are likely to be waiting until May, according to NFUS.

 

In contrast, more than 80 per cent of farmers have now been paid in England and Wales, where part payments have been issued.

 

Those farmers subject to inspection or with complicated applications – including crofters who use common grazings – must prepare themselves for being at the back of Scottish Government’s queue, NFUS said.

 

Payment rate ’not picked up’

 

NFUS president Allan Bowie said the payment rate had not picked up since Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead’s promise of progress at the recent NFUS annual general meeting.

 

He again called for a clear timetable on when BPS and other crucial payments, such as Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme, beef calf payments and ewe hogg payments, can be expected.

 

“When you add the value of all schemes together, the gaping hole in the Scottish rural economy which would normally be filled by June approaches almost £400m, with no clear steer on when all support streams will arrive,” he said.

 

NFU Scotland has submitted fresh evidence to the Auditor General for Scotland on the Scottish Government’s IT Futures Programme installed to implement Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reforms in Scotland.

 

Cost of the programme

 

In its previous report on the Futures Programme, the Auditor General said the total forecast cost of the programme of £178m was 74 per cent above original budget.

 

Mr Bowie added: “The Futures Programme has failed to deliver on any considered satisfactory measure.

 

“Applicant’s experience with their electronic submission of 2015 SAFs was dreadful, which saw deadlines having to be extended, and the eventual delivery of payments has been horrendous.”

 

Mr Lochhead announced this week the £20m loan scheme was open which could provide an interest-free cash advance worth 60 per cent of a farmer’s CAP claim, up to a maxi

 


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