Despite the Scottish Government’s promise to pay out the first instalment of its Common Agricultural Policy support payments due to a quarter of Scotland’s farmers before the end of 2015, with the ‘vast majority’ receiving 70% of their due before the end of this month, only 18% of farmers have received their part payments by the end of 2015, leaving four out of five applicants in the dark over when the first tranche of their payments will arrive.
In response, NFU Scotland have rightly made it clear that 90% of relevant farmers should be receiving 90% of their overdue payments by the end of January.
Recent government letters intended to provide an estimate of entitlement values to farmers has added to the confusion. Many farmers have not received such letters while some of those who have claim that the government’s figures are wildly inaccurate.
When raised with the relevant authorities, they have been told that they are simply ‘illustrative’. This hardly instils confidence or reduces hard-pressed farmer’s financial concerns.
Meanwhile, the Scottish Government, through the Department for Children and Young People, has decided, after nearly 70 years, to withdraw its financial support to the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs.
The Association offers a crucial network for individuals aged 14-30 in rural Scotland as well as unique personal development opportunities, including helping to reduce rural isolation and increasing individual’s confidence and skills.
With the farming community feeling threatened by the lack of certainty and clarity contained in the Scottish Government’s controversial land reform legislation, the chaos over its farm support payments and its withdrawal of funding for young farmers suggests that the SNP fails to understand both the economic importance and concerns of Scotland’s crucial farming sector. No more so, than here in East Lothian.
Tim Jackson, Highbury, Whim Road, Gullane
It’s time our politicians fought austerity
Considering that the SNP and Scottish Labour were elected in ‘opposition’ to Tory austerity and both control the majority of Scottish councils, with the SNP having a majority at Holyrood, isn’t it time they got their finger out to stop local authorities having to set budgets which will devastate services and jobs?
The SNP makes the understandable point that because Scotland does not have control of its own purse strings, they have no option but to slash council budgets.
Although this argument has some merit, the magnitude of the cuts can no longer be ignored, in my opinion. So, without independence, is Scotland doomed to stand back and witness cuts to the very fabric of society by a Tory Party that has no democratic mandate in Scotland?
With the support of Holyrood, councils could negotiate to end the massive debt they have to repay because of disastrous Tory/Labour PFI/PPP, refuse to set Tory austerity budgets and replace the unfair council tax with an income based alternative.
Surely the cross-party commission set up by Nicola Sturgeon has had enough time to come up with a simple alternative, where those who can easily afford to pay proportionately more on a rising scale in relation to earnings should, enabling those earning less to pay proportionately less in a reducing scale in relation to earnings.
Jack Fraser, Clayknowes Drive, Musselburgh
Oil price crash shows ‘No’ voters were right
During the referendum Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon both said Scotland was on the cusp of a second oil boom. The White Paper said there was $1.5trillion worth of oil in the North Sea. Salmond even went further and said that estimates could be six times too low.
How shocking those false promises look now as oil falls to $29 a barrel. Will either of them apologise to those of us that dared question them? Will they accept that the Better Together campaign was just raising legitimate questions on behalf of Scottish families and it is not anti-Scottish or scaremongering to suggest that we would be in a financial crisis if we had listened to them.
Michelle Smythe, Dalry Road, Edinburgh
Council has lost the plot over service cuts
Regarding the threat to sports facilities in the Capital (News, January 20) - if funding the 20mph limit is to be prioritised over swimming and fitness centres, then our council really has lost it.
Ian Hardie, Comiston Drive, Edinburgh
How do you dial 999 in Gaelic?
It has now been suggested that ambulance crew learn Gaelic. How many times has this hampered them in the past?
I doubt very much if there are any Gaelic speakers in Edinburgh who do not know enough English to get them by in an emergency.
I think the Scottish Parliament must wonder what they can debate next to justify their existence. This Scottish Parliament is turning more into a dictatorship every day.
Mrs Flora Rutherford, Morningside, Edinburgh