Farming News - Scottish government misses BPS target only 30% paid

Scottish government misses BPS target only 30% paid

01 Feb 2016
Frontdesk

On Friday, Scotland’s Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lockheed revealed that the Scottish Government had fallen well short of its BPS payment targets.

 

In a meeting with industry leaders he said around 5,000 farmers and crofters had received the first instalment of the BPS payments, but admitted that “The challenge of implementing the biggest CAP reform in a generation [meant] it was taking longer than expected to process applications.”

 

By the end of last week, only 30 percent of Scotland’s 18,000 eligible claimants had been paid, against government targets of making the majority of payments by the end of January. Lochhead said more payments are expected to arrive in farmers’ accounts this week.

 

He also said the amounts paid out, at 80 per cent of the value of the Basic Payment and the greening elements, are worth more than the 70 percent initially promised by the government. However, NFU Scotland said farmers have been left out of pocket, as just 15 percent of the total scheme value had been paid out by the end of January. The union also pointed out that this marks the second consecutive month in which targets have been missed, since the payment window opened in December.

 

The Rural Affairs Secretary said, “My officials have informed me the extreme complexity of the new CAP means claims are taking longer to process and EU regulations prevent us from issuing payments until all of the necessary checks have been completed.

 

“I share the industry’s disappointment and frustration that we are not making faster progress, and I recognise the need to take further action to speed up payments. That is why I have instructed the deployment of additional staff to area offices and for applications to be processed seven days a week, and I will now ensure the Scottish Parliament and industry are updated more regularly on progress.”

 

He said area offices will aim to prioritise hardship cases where possible, and recommended any farmers who are concerned about their own payment contact the government’s helpline on 0300 300 2222.

 

Scotland’s Chief Agricultural Officer David Barnes added, “This is the first time ever that Europe has simultaneously overhauled the direct payments system and rural development support – and EU rules now require Scotland’s CAP payments to be based on area rather than historic levels of production.

 

“And – based on extensive consultation with industry - two Scotland-wide direct income support schemes are being replaced with six regionalised schemes, which add additional complexity this year, but will deliver long term benefits for Scottish agriculture.

 

“We have also had a number of one-off first year tasks which will not have to be repeated in future years. For instance almost half a million fields have had to be allocated to one of the three new payment regions in this first year of the new CAP, alongside the processing of 21,000 Single Application Forms (SAF) as well as individually inspecting 1,300 farms.”

 

The Scottish government also announced that the 2016 round of Agri-Environment-Climate scheme (AECS) opened last week, and successful 2015 applicants should be informed in the coming days. More information about AECS and how to apply can be accessed here: https://www.ruralpayments.org/publicsite/futures/topics/all-schemes/agri-environment-climate-scheme/