The new Scottish Agriculture Minister Fergus Ewing today admitted that more than 50% of the £500 million croft and farm payments budget has yet to be spent
Croft payments were promised to crofters by the end of January. Today at Holyrood in a parliamentary statement, Mr Ewing admitted that only £200 million had been spent. Nearly the same amount, £178 million, has been spent on an IT system that has failed and was slammed by Audit Scotland in a scathing report published earlier this month.
Speaking in Holyrood after the ministerial statement Tavish Scott said, “I know that more than a fifth of Shetland crofters still have to apply for next year’s croft payment scheme. No wonder. The shambles of these years croft payments have blown a hole in the confidence of local crofters in their government.
“Fergus Ewing was right to apologise and to say that his principal responsibility is to fix the mess. He needs to decide whether the busted £178 million computer can ever work. Crofters will not tolerate a repeat of the 2016 shambles. So I will be asking the Minister to explain what steps he is now taking to ensure 2017 works smoothly and farm payments can be made at the right time which is by Christmas this year.”