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Auditors to examine crofter payment ‘fiasco’

Following lengthy delays to CAP payments, Shetland MSP Tavish Scott is hopeful Audit Scotland will "leave no stone unturned" in finding out what went wrong.

CROFTERS and farmers hit by the Scottish Government’s “fiasco” over making CAP payments is being urged to contact Audit Scotland, which is investigating how the programme operates.

Shetland MSP Tavish Scott wrote to Audit Scotland auditor general Caroline Gardner, who responded by saying a fresh report into the delivery of the new CAP system will be published in May 2016.

She said she had continued to monitor progress on the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) futures programme.

“Publishing in May will allow me to provide an assessment of how payments to farmers have been delivered and managed,” Gardner wrote.

“I will also provide an update on what progress has been made for the opening of the next single application form (SAF) in March 2016.

“As part of this audit work we are seeking the views of delivery partners and farmers. This will help to inform our work and allow us to judge what impact the delays in delivering the programme has had on the farming community.”

Scott responded by saying he was confident the investigation into the failure to pay farmers and crofters on time would “leave no stone unturned”.

“Any farmers and crofters who have been affected by this Scottish Government fiasco should contact Audit Scotland,” he said.

“It will help them to build a clear picture of how this complete cock-up by the Scottish Government has hit crofters and farmers from Shetland to Galloway and all points in between.”

On Friday, rural affairs minister Richard Lochhead announced a £20 million hardship fund would offer loans to crofters and farmers suffering as a result of late subsidy payments.

Lochhead said 40 per cent of the 18,000 eligible claims across Scotland had been authorised, but first installments will not be out until next month with the rest of the cash to be paid “as soon as possible after that”.

  • Crofters and farmers can make their views known by contacting Audit Scotland. Address: 4th Floor, 102 West Port, Edinburgh, EH3 9DN; telephone 0131 625 1500; email info@audit-scotland.gov.uk