Orkney MSP Liam McArthur has called for the Scottish Government to act “immediately” as delays with Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments hit hard in Orkney.
Mr McArthur has repeatedly called on the Scottish Government to provide information on when Orkney farmers and crofters can expect delivery of the new Basic Payment Scheme (BPS).
The Scottish Government has now been forced to announce it had missed its latest Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) target. 70% of claimants are still to receive a penny despite promises from Scottish Government Ministers that the majority of initial payments would be paid by the end of January.
The announcement comes as Mr McArthur is receiving increased complaints from constituents affected by the ongoing delay to CAP payments. One constituent this week told Mr McArthur that they had yet to even receive their letter detailing their entitlement while the Scottish Government’s new online record shows no acknowledgement of the farm they are renting.
In trying to access information, Mr McArthur’s constituent phoned the Scottish Government’s helpline to be informed that while single farm payments are due to be paid by the end of June no further information about individual applications could be obtained, a response that left Mr McArthur’s constituent to say “staff aren't even allowed to look up people’s payments now as it's apparently not helping the system”.
Commenting, Orkney’s MSP said:
“For months farmers and crofters in Orkney have been asking when or if direct support payments will be made. The Scottish Government, despite investing £178 million in a new computer delivery system, has once again failed to meet its own target for delivery.
“The consequences of this are cash flow problems for farmers and crofters across Orkney. Those I have spoken to have been left in the dark over their own individual applications. It is simply not good enough.
“The Cabinet Secretary has promised increased staffing to help deal with the problem, but it’s not clear why this was not in place months ago. Local offices have been put in an impossible position, dealing with farmers and crofters growing increasingly angry at Mr Lochhead’s performance over payments.”