Farmers will approach 2017 having “lost all confidence” in the SNP Government’s ability to process farm payments, the Scottish Conservatives have said this week.
The government has admitted to yet another blunder on the distribution of funds – this time over-paying farmers and crofters who took advantage of a cash advance loan scheme.
The National Loan Scheme itself was set up because of a catastrophic failure in an £178million IT system meant to handle EU subsidy applications.
Those affected by the latest error have been given just seven days to repay the money before interest is applied.
Another issue concerning the farming community is around the paperwork required for sporting rates, which have to be filled out by every landowner, not just those operating sporting estates.
Peter Chapman, Shadow Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity, said: “This government has presided over an unprecedented catalogue of blunders on farm payments that are vital to many rural businesses and families across the country.
“With 2017 fast approaching, I think it would be fair to say that the industry has lost all confidence in the SNP on this issue.
“NFU Scotland has pointed out that any goodwill that has been built up from the establishment of the loan scheme has now been undermined.
“It seems that we cannot go a week without reports of another administrative error. The IT system itself was a disaster, but it has just been one thing after another since then.
“I fail to see how anyone could honestly say they have faith in this government to manage the farm payments system next year without any further problems.
“To make matters worse, those affected by the latest error are being put under pressure to respond very quickly – within a week – or face being hit with interest payments.
“The idea that farmers have to pay out because of a government mistake is quite frankly ridiculous. Any interest due should be waived immediately.
"The paperwork surrounding sporting rates is simply adding to the confusion and creating a great deal of worry about more bills mounting up."