Crofters in Shetland are still waiting for overdue Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) payments, something that Shetland MSP Tavish Scott will be raising as the Scottish Parliament returns today after its Easter break.
The Scottish Government spent £180 million on a computer system that does not work. Some crofters are still waiting for payments that are more than a year late. Different agricultural schemes including rural development, monies for agri-environmental schemes and the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) are all delayed. Tavish Scott has contacted the Scottish Government Agriculture Minister regularly on behalf of local crofters but the delays continue.
Tavish will press the Scottish Government to admit their £180 million computer will never work properly and abandon it. The independent auditor, Audit Scotland, has already pressed the government to ensure croft payments are paid out on time.
Commenting, Tavish Scott said:
“A year ago, the Scottish Government said their £180 million computer would work. It would pay out Basic Payment Scheme (BPS), LFASS and the many other schemes that crofters use. The opposite has happened. Despite the herculean efforts of local agriculture department staff in Lerwick, and across Scotland, the governments computer is an absolute shambles. It does not work and most people involves with agriculture do not believe it will ever work. So the Scottish Government will have to explain why they have wasted £180 million.
“But before that they should admit their catastrophic error and instead reinstate a payment system that works. Having someone write a cheque and post it to 14,000 crofters and farmers across Scotland would cost a lot less than £180 million. Now is the time for Agriculture Minister Fergus Ewing to admit this catastrophic failure of his government. He should immediately get late payments paid. There can be no more excuses and time wasting. The government should do what they are responsible for and put in place a system that works. So far they have lamentably failed to do that.”