The Scottish Government were ‘let off the hook’ last week, when the European Commission’s extended the CAP direct payment deadline from 30 June to 15 October.
The announcement will save the Scottish taxpayer from a hefty fine worth up to £125million. But concerns have been raised that the SNP will use the reprieve to cover up their failure to deliver payments on time and push them back even further.
MSP for the North East, Mike Rumbles, said: “Counting on secure and reliable support helps famers plan for the future, and underpins our rural economy in the North East.
“Many local agricultural suppliers and communities depend on payments being made in good time – often equipment, seed and feed must be ordered months in advance. It does no good to add SNP incompetence and financial uncertainty into the mix.
“It’s only reasonable that the Scottish Government now give assurances that the backlog will be cleared and get fund out of the door and into bank accounts before the end of June, as they said they would.”
Notes for editors:
- NFU Scotland Chief Executive Scott Walker said: “The shift in the European deadline for making payments is good news for the Scottish taxpayer, as it will significantly lessen the risk of a hefty fine. The recent Audit Scotland report estimated that failure to deliver payments by the end of June could have cost the Scottish Government between £40 million and £125 million. However, any deadline shift must not be used as an excuse by Scottish Government in delaying the payment of outstanding 2015 monies any further or hold back progress with the 2016 scheme. With many millions of pounds still outstanding, we will be looking to the Scottish Government to have made significant inroads into filling the substantial hole that remains in the Scottish rural economy by the time the Royal Highland Show starts on 23 June. The list of work from the 2015 scheme that remains to be completed is substantial. Not only do we want outstanding support payments delivered to farmers and crofters before the end of June but mapping, regionalisation, fixing entitlement rates, national reserve awards and delivery of the new sheep support scheme have also been delayed and must be completed if the Scottish rural economy is to have a chance of getting back on its feet any time soon.”