CASH ADVANCE FOR FARMERS WELCOMED

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Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP, Alasdair Allan, has welcomed the news that crofters still waiting for a direct subsidy paymenAlasdair-Allant at the end of March will receive a cash advance from the Scottish Government.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon yesterday announced that the Scottish Government will use up to £200 million of national funds to provide cash support while Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) claims are being processed.

Alasdair Allan said: ‘With extra staff recruited and offices around the country working around to clock to process applications the delays to payments have not been for a lack of effort, and we are now at the stage where the majority of crofters have received their first payment.

‘This year has seen the implementation of the biggest reform of EU CAP payments for a generation. The new policy in Scotland is highly complex, with two old schemes replaced by six new schemes and large one-off tasks have had to be carried out in the first year. This has been further complicated by the fact EU rules prohibit using EU funds to pay out on claims until they have been fully processed. It is worth noting that England, Wales and Northern Ireland are also making payments later than usual as a result of this, despite their policies undergoing less radical change than in Scotland.

‘I am very pleased that the Scottish Government has made available the money, out of national funding, to ensure that any crofter who does not receive direct subsidy payments by the end of the month will receive them in April. I have written to Ministers about the various problems these delays have been causing to crofters across the Western Isles and I’m glad they now have a clear timetable with which to expect payment.’