Scottish Liberal Democrat rural spokesperson, Mike Rumbles MSP today called for an inquiry into the recent bungle over CAP payments after it was announced by the Rural Economy Secretary that farmers have been let down by another payment blunder.
A letter addressed to Holyrood's Rural Economy and Connectivity committee revealed that 166 businesses have been overpaid through the government’s cash advance loan scheme. Farmers who were overpaid will be given 30 days to pay back the money, which amounts to £746,000. In a separate letter to the Public Audit Committee on the same issue, it was revealed that £1.35 million was being clawed back due to duplicate payments being made.
Human error has been blamed for the mistake in the formula for converting Euros into Sterling, which affected a quarter of those receiving money in the November 24 payment run.
Commenting Mr Rumbles said:
“The saga continues as far as the SNP governments bungling of CAP payments is concerned. With payments still late and overtime in the department spiralling out of control, these loan overpayments to our farm businesses are really the last straw.
“Over 25% of the farm businesses who received loans in this batch will now be receiving invoices for Mr Ewing’s blunders. These farmers had no idea they were overpaid and receiving this unexpected invoice will surely be a blow.
“The Minister has presided over a horrifying comedy of errors. On his watch millions has been spent on a CAP I.T. system that doesn’t work, 2015/16 farm business payments were late, loans have been overpaid and now he has revealed duplicaiton payments of £1.35million.
“Mr Ewing is completely oblivious to the havoc he is causing in the rural economy and he must be held accountable for his failures”