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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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Scotland's Rural Communities Short-Changed by Westminster

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Scottish National Party Westminster agricultural spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP has said Scotland’s rural communities are short-changed on a range of policy issues by Westminster in a debate in the House of Commons today.

Dr Whiteford made reference to high energy and fuel costs, ineffective infrastructure for broadband and mobile connectivity and decreasing postal services as well as inadequate and unfair payments from the UK government of EU agricultural funds to Scottish farmers.

It follows Dr Whiteford’s Westminster Hall debate last month on Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) convergence uplift. The UK has received an uplift of 230 million Euros in its CAP funding allocation because of the historically low rates of support per hectare paid in Scotland compared to farmers in other parts of the UK. However, rather than use the uplift for its intended purpose, the UK government has divided the extra funding across the whole of the UK, depriving Scottish farmers of what is due to them.

Commenting after the debate, Dr Whiteford said:

“Westminster just doesn’t understand the needs of our rural communities, and as a result they are massively disadvantaged on a range of issues.

“Many in rural communities are off the gas grid so they tend to have higher energy costs. They also pay more in fuel which they rely on to get about and access public services- 60p of every £1 of fuel costs is sent straight to the Exchequer. Rural communities also suffer disproportionately due to decreased postal services and ineffective infrastructure for broadband and mobile connectivity, which are vital for many businesses.

“The economic vitality of our rural communities is also underpinned by our agricultural industries and the food and drink processing and distribution sectors that derive from them, yet Scottish farmers are hindered as they do not receive their due share of EU Common Agricultural payments.

“In September we have a choice of two futures. It’s becoming increasingly clear that a Yes vote is needed for Scotland’s rural communities."

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