Mike Rumbles MSP has today written to the Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy, calling for a full Scottish Government inquiry into the economic impact for rural communities caused by three years of delayed Common Agricultural farm payments.
The North East MSP and Scottish Liberal Democrat rural affairs spokesperson noted ‘substantial levels of concern and instability in the industry’ and the extra cost to Scottish taxpayers since 2015, following the failure of the Scottish Government’s £178 million IT system, designed to deliver farm payments.
Mr Rumbles said:
“The Scottish Government’s embarrassing shambles over farm payments has been rolling on for the past three years and we still do not know the full extent of the damage to our rural economy.
“Millions of pounds of support payments have been delayed every year since 2015. The impact of that has been felt by local suppliers, shops and services across our rural economy, as well as by farm businesses.
“I want to see a thorough and meaningful assessment carried out by the Scottish Government. Businesses and communities that have been affected deserve to know the full extent of the economic damage and the additional cost to the taxpayer.”
Notes for editors:
Text of letter from Mike Rumbles MSP to the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity, Fergus Ewing (25/04/18):
Rural economy impact assessment for delayed Pillar 1 Basic Payments, 2015-18.
I was pleased to read, in your latest update to REC Committee members, that the majority of farm support payments for 2017/18 have now been paid. While this is a welcome improvement on the previous two years, it remains a significant deferral of payments in comparison to the years prior to 2015.
As you know, our agricultural sector depends on long term financial planning, as do many offshoot industries that benefit indirectly from CAP support payments. The delay in payments, along with substantial levels of concern and instability in the industry, will have had a detrimental impact on Scotland’s rural economy over the past three years. Of this I have no doubt.
While the Scottish Government’s loan scheme has mitigated some of the harm caused by delayed payments, the fact remains that large sums of money that would normally enter our rural economy each December has been withheld until the following year.
I am sure you will agree that the whole process of putting Basic Payments back on track has been immensely frustrating for our rural industries. Coupled with substantial staff overtime and other additional costs, the Scottish Taxpayer should be troubled by this issue.
I believe it is important, then, to determine the full extent of the damage to farm businesses and our wider rural communities, as a result of three years of delayed payments.
I therefore request that the Scottish Government undertake a full review of the economic and social impact of delayed Basic Payments on our rural economy, for the past three years.