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Scottish Government under pressure to deliver part-payments to cash-strapped farmers

The Scottish Government has come under pressure to deliver part-payments to all claimants as the cashflow crisis continues to grip the industry.


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Only 35 per cent have received the first part-payment since the payment run started
Only 35 per cent have received the first part-payment since the payment run started

In the past week, only seven per cent of claimants to the new CAP support scheme have received part-payment.

 

It means only 35 per cent have received the first tranche since the payment run started in December.

 

NFU Scotland, which convened a meeting with farmers and Clydesdale MSP Aileen Campbell and MSP for the South of Scotland Claudia Beamish, said payment delays had ‘deepened’ the cash crisis on farms.

 

Forth and Clyde regional chairman Tom French, Balgray Farm, Crawfordjohn, South Lanarkshire, who hosted the meeting, said: “We knew 2016 would be a difficult year as we changed to the new CAP regime but we now have the perfect storm of low commodity prices, poor weather and severe delay in getting support payments out to the industry.

 

“Every day is adding further costs but much of that burden is currently being carried by those businesses who supply us. Bills traditionally settled in December are going unpaid and orders are drying up.”

 

He said the message to Scottish Government chiefs was to ‘get the vast majority of payments out to the vast majority of businesses’.

 

“Farmers are very poor at wealth generation but they are very good at wealth distribution and getting funds into farm bank accounts is absolutely essential if we are to get funds flowing again to the wider rural economy,” added Mr French.

 

NFUS vice president Andrew McCornick said the crisis had created a culture of ‘worry and concern’ among farmers and their families.

 

“Too many Scottish farm businesses still have no idea what the true value of their support will be and when they are to receive their part payment,” he added.

 

“Heading into the second week of February, only 35 per cent of claimants have received some funding. The only way Scottish Government can properly address this crisis is to drop its aversion to risk, and deliver part-payment to all claimants in the next few weeks. If you can issue a letter of entitlement, you can issue part payment.

 

“Those who are robustly supporting their customers by continuing to provide credit or extending payment terms are providing a huge service to the farming community but they cannot be left to carry the can for Scottish Government failings in delivering support.”


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Young crofters worry payment delays could have long-term impact

Only one per cent of Scottish crofters have received their first part payment from the Scottish Government.

 

Reacting angrily to the delay, the Scottish Crofting Federation Young Crofters (SCFYC) said the BPS roll-out had been ‘shambolic’ and was putting some businesses at risk.

 

SCFYC chairman James Shewan said: “Winter is the worst time of year for delays to payments, with harsh weather and a poor crop this year meaning that many crofters will be struggling to feed stock.

 

“Tax returns were due in by the end of January, interest is being charged on non-payments of bills and there are charges on the necessary overdrafts from banks. Too many crofters are in financial hardship for this to continue.”

 

Back in December, Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead announced payments to the majority of farmers and crofters would reach bank accounts by the end of 2015 with the bulk of the remaining funds sent out by the end of January 2016.

 

Mr Shewan added: “Discussion in the Young Crofters group has found that most of our members have not even received their Illustration of entitlements, which shows how much they are due to be paid, let alone any money.

 

“What impression does this give to any young crofters, but especially those on the fence about whether or not to take on the family croft?

 

“We have written to MSPs for support on this as we are at crisis point. We need these payments as soon as possible before it is too late to repair the damage done.”

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