The Scottish Conservatives have accused the SNP of letting progress on CAP payments stall, following reports that the Scottish Government may escape fines only because of the relatively good progress by Defra in England.
1,300 farmers across Scotland are still to receive CAP payments as only 126 payments were made last week, despite the deadline of 30th June having already passed. At this rate, farmers will still be waiting for payments at the end of August.
Under European rules 95 per cent of payments should have been made by 30th June at the latest. The Scottish Government fell short, only reaching 90.4 per cent. In contrast, Defra made 99.2 per cent of payments in England by the end of June deadline.
Audit Scotland have also recently warned that European fines of up to £60 million are possible if the troubled CAP IT system does not work and that the Scottish Government’s IT system may never be fit for purpose.
Rachael Hamilton MSP said: “This money is normally paid in December, so for so many farmers to be waiting 7 months on is completely unacceptable. Farm debt is at record levels across Scotland and the failure to pay subsidies on time has undoubtedly contributed to and exacerbated this problem.
“Audit Scotland have warned that even next year the IT system may not be working as it should and many farmers will now be wondering if it will ever be fit for purpose.
“The Scottish Government has promised time and time again to fix this mess. It’s about time they got to grips with this issue.”
John Lamont MP added: “Having being saved from the embarrassment of missing the deadline by the hard work of Defra south of the border, it appears the SNP have taken their foot off the accelerator when it comes to delivering CAP payments.
“These payments are crucial to the Borders economy but for a second year running many farmers are still being made to wait.
“That is simply not good enough and the Scottish Government has no-one else to blame but themselves.”