Assurance offered on crofting grant scheme

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Western Isles MSP, Alasdair Allan, has received an assurance from Crofting Minister Aileen McLeod that the approvals for applications to the Crofting Agricultural Grant Scheme (CAGS) will shortly resume.

The Scottish Government temporarily paused its processing of CAGS applications while awaiting the outcome of the 2015 UK Spending Review and the detailed budget issues that followed from that.

The MSP has also written to Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and the Environment, Richard Lochead, to seek clarity on when crofters can expect to see support payments under the Basic Payment Scheme

This is the first year of implementation for the Basic Payments Scheme after it replaced the Single Farm Payment Scheme as the main payment for farmers and crofters in the EU.

The payments have a window of between 1st December and the end of June and are designed to act as a safety net for farmers and crofters by supplementing their main business income.

Mr Allan commented: “I am pleased to hear that the Scottish Government will soon resume its processing and approving of applications to the Crofting Agricultural Grant Scheme (CAGS).

“The Scottish Government is committed to providing vital financial support for crofters to make improvements to their crofts, sustain their businesses, and support fragile crofting communities.

“On the basic Payments scheme, I recognise is the first year of implementing a very complex and difficult reform of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy and the difficulties in support payments have to be viewed against that backdrop. Unlike others parts of the UK, Scotland has implemented three different payment regions.

“This was welcomed as the move from the historical basis for payments to area-based payments should benefit island communities such as ours.

“However, we are now in a situation where instead of the extremely prompt payments crofters have been used to in past years, the delays have forced payments further down the window than many were anticipating.

“Many crofters I have spoken to are still waiting for payments to be made and are unsure of what kind of timetable they can expect.

“I have raised this issue with the Government and hope we will have more information on support payments to crofters in the coming weeks.”