Farming: Government in move to address grant claim fears

Scotland’s farming industry was swift to welcome the recent announcement the overall budget for the Sustainable Agriculture Capital Grant Scheme (SACGS) had been boosted from £10 million to £18m.

The end of March is the cut-off date for farmers to complete their purchases and lodge receipts with the Scottish Government
The end of March is the cut-off date for farmers to complete their purchases and lodge receipts with the Scottish Government

But while the move meant that the vast majority of the 3,500 who had applied for help investing in equipment designed to improve their green credentials were successful in their applications, it soon became obvious that supply issues threatened to scupper the scheme as many of the items were unlikely to be delivered by the end of March – the cut-off date for farmers to complete their purchases and lodge receipts with the Scottish Government.

The delay in supply of many of the goods had been due to a combination of Brexit uncertainties affecting supply chains and the Scottish scheme offering support for sustainable products coinciding with a similar grant scheme in England.

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However, with the claim period for English producers being extended until the end of May earlier in the week, the Scottish Government yesterday also moved to address the issue.

A spokesperson said that in order to reduce the uncertainties faced by applicants, the Scottish Government had introduced a revised, split claims process:

“Claims for all equipment ordered under SACGS must be submitted by the 31 March 2021 deadline. Upon receipt of a claim the Scottish Government will pay for the items claimed that have accompanying proof of payment and confirmation of delivery,” he said.

“Payment for items claimed for but that have not yet been delivered by that date will be made once the items have been purchased and proof of payment submitted confirming delivery of those items has taken place.”

However, indicating a final deadline, he said that Items delivered after 30 September 2021 would not be eligible for payment.

“When ordering items set out in the “authority to proceed” letter, applicants are advised to do that as soon after receipt of that letter as possible. The applicant will be required to obtain confirmation at the time of ordering from the supplier that an item is subject to supply constraints along with an estimated date of delivery.”

He said that all applicants who had been successful would be written to by the RPID in the near future explaining the new, split claims procedure – but in the meantime all enquiries should be addressed to local the relevant RPID Local Area Office.

Welcoming the move, NFU Scotland said it had been made aware of members who were having difficulty sourcing the items that they applied for, at the price that they budgeted for and/or getting confirmation that items could be delivered before 31 March 2021.

A spokesman said that this has raised concerns about compliance with the SACGS requirements and timing of making claims and payments before the end of the financial year.

The union said that it had contacted SGRPID to highlight these concerns – and said the adjustments delivered would provide certainty and confidence for claimants that they would not be penalised or lose out.