SCOTLAND'S RURAL economy has received a "hugely welcome and sizeable boost" ahead of the winter, as £246million have gone out to farmers under the Scottish Government's National Basic Payment Support Scheme.

The scheme effectively offered all eligible BPS claimants an 80% advance on their 2016 EU money, delivered as a loan of ScotGov's own money to avoid another cashflow hold-up at the mercy of the troubled rural payments computer.

It has been reported that almost 12,000 farmers and crofters have already had their advance payments under the stop-gap scheme. Rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing said: “The funding will give our rural communities the security and certainty they need to plan for the year ahead while driving forward the rural economy. We have had a great response from farmers to the 2016 scheme and will be writing to each recipient confirming their individual loan shortly.

"In the meantime, we continue to progress the remaining applications received after the October 19 deadline and further offer letters will be issued as eligibility is clarified. We would encourage the 5000 farmers who received a loan offer but haven’t yet replied to decide if they want to apply and return the application slip as soon as possible.

“I would like to again thank our farmers and crofters for their patience and encourage any individual experiencing difficulties to contact their local area office or RPID customer helpline.”

NFU Scotland director of policy, Jonnie Hall, welcomed the payments as "a hugely welcome and sizeable boost to our rural economy as we head into winter."

He said: “Given ongoing concerns over the IT payment system, we were very supportive of the Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing opting for the loan scheme approach and he is now delivering on his commitment to put precious funds into accounts in early November. That delivers stability and certainty to farmers and crofters but will also very quickly filter out to all those businesses who provide them with goods and services.

“With major agricultural events coming soon, such as Agriscot, LiveScot and the Christmas Classic, having these funds in circulation is likely to provide a welcome boost to the mood and help stimulate business. For those who chose not to apply for the loan scheme, an important message is that the scheme remains open to applications and they can re-consider their position by contacting their local SGRPID office."

Mr Hall added “Some NFUS members also reported this week that LFASS balance payments had been delivered, meaning that 2015 payment run across all Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 schemes is nearing closure.

“For the benefit of farm businesses – and their accountants – we urge Scottish Government to follow up on their commitment to provide all claimants with a clear statement of what support they have received and for what schemes. Given the drawn-out payment process, a concise record will give all claimants some reassurance and peace of mind that all monies they are due have now been duly delivered.”