THE SCOTTISH Government has conceded that around ten per cent of farmers and crofters won’t receive their latest subsidies on time.
Rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing said the government still needs to “do better” when it comes its much-criticised administration the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
The government has a deadline of Friday to pay subsidies for the last year, but only around 90 per cent of those eligible will receive payments on time.
Last year the deadline was extended to October after problems with the government’s new £178 million computer system to administer the subsidies, and the government recently applied to increase the timescale again.
Ewing told MSPs that around 82 per cent of payments totalling £311 million have now been paid, but the government is set to fall short of the deadline target of 95.24 per cent.
It is expected that any subsidy payments which will not meet Friday’s deadline will be paid soon.
“We are doing all we can to deliver as many payments as possible this month. We are making progress, but we still need to do better,” Ewing said later.
“We have made a clear commitment to do all we can to make the 2016 payments by the end of this week and our staff are working as hard as they can to process the remaining payments.
“I expect the vast majority of farmers will receive all their basic and greening payments by the end of the month. Although it is not possible at this stage to guarantee precisely what level of payment will be made, the latest figures show that we are making good progress.”
In a report published earlier in June about the previous failure to pay subsidies on time, Audit Scotland said the government was still at risk of being fined millions of pounds for not complying with EC regulations.
NFU Scotland chief executive Scott Walker said that some farmers and crofters are still waiting for payments due nearly two years ago.
“While 90 per cent of support will have been delivered by 30 June, that is of little comfort to those still waiting on some or all of their payments. And the reality is that some are still waiting on payments being completed from 18 months ago and not just the current scheme year,” he said.
“Loan schemes secured by NFU Scotland lobbying have been an invaluable stop gap in delivering vital funds into the rural economy but they don’t help in all cases.
“Complete trust and confidence in the IT system will only be achieved when the Scottish Government outlines a clear monthly timetable for payment delivery and that timetable is met without exception.”