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Scottish fury over ‘open-ended’ delay of convergence cash review

Scottish Ministers have slammed the UK Government after a planned review into the distribution of convergence cash was delayed indefinitely.

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Scottish fury over ‘open-ended’ delay of convergence cash review

The six-year-old row between Westminster and Holyrood began because the UK Government handed out £160 million returned by the EU to all the home nations, despite the fact it was only given back because of low Scottish farm payments.

 

Defra Ministers have been assuring MPs they would discuss the issue since July 2016, and a review was promised after Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing stepped up the pressure on Secretary of State Michael Gove late last year.

 

But the UK Government has now written to Mr Ewing to inform him the review has been subjected to an ‘open-ended delay’.

 

Unacceptable

 

“This is completely unacceptable”, Mr Ewing said.

 

“Scottish hill farmers are owed £160 million, which the UK Government has repeatedly ignored. I have been clear throughout that the money was earned in Scotland and quite frankly should be returned to Scotland.

 

“Our demand for the monies to be returned to Scotland is not against farmers in other parts of the UK, but is about setting a precedent for future agricultural funding within the UK.

 

“The lack of progress on this long-standing unresolved issue is disappointing, particularly at a time when we are about to enter a range of complex and critical future funding discussions with the UK Government.

 

Disappointing

 

“Having already secured the review and agreed its independent chair, it is disappointing to learn it is being kicked into the long grass.”

 

A Defra spokesman told Farmers Guardian the department was ‘in discussion’ with the Treasury about the review.

 

“It is essential it is considered alongside wider funding implications in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as we leave the EU”, the spokesman added.

 

“Ministers have consistently said we will ensure all parts of the UK are treated fairly and their circumstances taken into account.”


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