This week, after ongoing industry pressure, the Scottish Government announced that farmers and crofters still waiting for a direct subsidy payment at the end of March will receive a cash advance from the Scottish Government.
This is very welcome news. A range of factors came together to put pressure on the Scottish Government. The Conservatives led a debate on the payments issue in the Scottish Parliament, industry representatives met with the First Minister, NFUS organised a rally outside parliament and the approaching period of purdah ahead of the elections in May all meant that some solution needed to be found sooner rather than later.
The Scottish Government will use up to £200 million of national funds to make payments as an advance on the final expected payment.
At the beginning of March the government had paid out £104M out of the total expected Basic and Greening payments budget of approx. £400M. By the end of March the situation will have changed somewhat with more applicants paid their first instalment and so the £200M will cover the majority of applicants left.
The exact details have yet to be confirmed but Scottish Government intends to write to each recipient to explain how this process will work. The government will presumably be operating on the basis of expected payments and allocating a proportion of the payment followed by a final settlement once the technical EU requirements for payment through the IT system have been met. The government will then recover its £200M. This could mean that the government pays out funds to potential recipients who are subsequently judged ineligible or it pays too much, so care will need to be exercised by recipients.
Details of the Scottish Government announcement can be found here...