A long anticipated penalty on the Scottish Government, imposed by the European Commission for problems associated with land mapping and other systems related to the Single Farm Payment Scheme, has been announced as amounting to £35 million.
The withheld funding – or disallowance – dates back to a 2009 audit and relates primarily to systems that were put in place between 2003 and 2007. Following the 2009 audit, the European Commission called for the Scottish Government to improve the accuracy of Scotland’s land maps to avoid the risk of farmers over-claiming for Single Farm Payment.
Douglas McAdam, Scottish Land & Estates Chief Executive said:-
“The important message is that Scottish Government have accepted the disallowance and have already planned for it, meaning that the budgets for this and subsequent years are unaffected. This disallowance will not have an effect at farm level.
"The Scottish Government have acknowledged the issues raised by the European Commission and put a great deal of effort into raising awareness about the importance of claimants ensuring that they only claim on eligible land. Indeed Scottish Government were so successful in this that they received over 12,000 mapping changes last year, which put a strain on the administration and resulted in delays to payment’.
"We are aware that the Scottish Government is already developing systems to support direct payments under a post-2013 CAP and Scottish Land & Estates will engage Scottish Government to ensure that any future systems are practical and workable for land managers.”