Responding to a question from Galloway & West Dumfries MSP Alex Fergusson on exactly when payments to sheep farmers under the Less Favoured Area Support Scheme (LFASS) will be paid, the Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead responded that, due to ongoing difficulties with the new Basic Payment Scheme, payments under LFASS would be delayed for ‘a few weeks’ – leaving a further £65 million hole in the rural economy.
Alex Fergusson said:
“This is yet another blow for Scotland’s increasingly hard pressed sheep farmers. Not only have they already had to extend their bank borrowing because of the Scottish Government’s complete failure to process their basic Payment Scheme applications, they will now have to borrow even more to make up for late payments under LFASS – payments that have always been made in March.
“The Scottish Government has hidden behind the ‘complexity’ of the new Basic Payment Scheme for too long. It has spent £200 million on a hopeless IT system, despite having been warned about the problems it would cause as long ago as 2014. Yet, it is Scotland’s farmers that are having to pay the price for Richard Lochhead’s incompetence – and that price will now be even heavier given his admission that LFASS payments won’t be made ‘for weeks’. The incompetence of this Scottish Government seems to know no bounds”.

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