Shetland MSP Tavish Scott and Orkney MSP Liam McArthur today met with the Scottish Government’s Crofting Minister, Dr Aileen McLeod, to discuss the difficulties facing farmers and crofters across the Northern Isles.
Having both highlighted the issue previously in the Scottish Parliament, Tavish Scott and Liam McArthur took the opportunity again to reiterate to the Minister the impact delayed payments are having in the islands. Around half of farmers and crofters in Shetland and Orkney have yet to receive a payment and the Scottish Government has been unable to confirm when this will change.
Commenting after the meeting, Tavish Scott said:
“The Scottish Government’s new IT payments system has been a catastrophe, putting many crofters and farmers into severe financial hardship, with no clear end in sight.
“While I’m in no doubt that the Crofting Minister understands the severity of the problem, those waiting for payments need action and they need it fast. The Scottish Government’s hardship scheme has created additional hoops and isn’t managing to get money out to those affected and circulating around our island economy.”
Liam McArthur said:
“Farmers and crofters in Orkney are experiencing serious financial problems due to these delays. This is having a spin off effect into the wider supply chain as well. The Minister accepted these points, but we need to see urgent action.
“The meeting also allowed Tavish and I to continue making the case for a more regionalised approach to regulating crofting.
“The current one-size-fits-all approach does not take into account the unique circumstances faced in island communities. Crofters in Orkney and Shetland need a more tailored approach.
“Again the Minister appeared to accept the argument. She suggested that the proposed Islands Bill may offer a chance to reflect these differences. For the sake of crofters and the local economies in Orkney and Shetland, I certainly hope that can be achieved.”