Farm­ing pay­ments re­main in cri­sis

The Oban Times - - Letters -

Sir, A damn­ing re­port by Au­dit Scot­land has re­cently re­vealed Scot­land’s farmer pay­ments cri­sis won’t be sorted un­til 2018.

Au­dit Scot­land also said: ‘Is­sues in re­la­tion to the SNP’s pro­cess­ing of Com­mon Agri­cul­tural Pol­icy pay­ments con­tinue to have a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact.’ It warned: ‘It is likely that the ru­ral pay­ments sys­tem will not be func­tion­ing as an­tic­i­pated, un­til SAF (Sin­gle Ap­pli­ca­tion Form win­dow) 2018 at the ear­li­est.’

The Scot­tish Govern­ment could also face fines of more than £60 mil­lion from the EU this year if it does not process all its pay­ments on time.

Prob­lems with the Scot­tish Govern­ment’s IT sys­tem first emerged as far back as 2015, with ma­jor de­lays starv­ing the ru­ral econ­omy of hun­dreds of mil­lions of pounds. Now, shock­ingly, au­di­tors have pub­lished a new re­port on the fi­asco, which it con­cludes ‘has not de­liv­ered value for money’.

On top of the pos­si­ble Euro­pean fines, it said: ‘The Scot­tish Govern­ment will need to in­cur ad­di­tional costs to im­prove and sta­bilise the sys­tem.’

As a con­se­quence of the sys­tem not be­ing fixed for at least an­other year, Au­dit Scot­land added: ‘This means there is a higher risk of weak­ness in the sys­tem and ad­min­is­tra­tive con­trols ex­ist­ing, if not all parts of the sys­tem, are in place un­til then.’

The Scot­tish Govern­ment’s lack of a dis­as­ter re­cov­ery so­lu­tion, which au­di­tors said ‘has not yet been fully de­vel­oped and tested’, was also crit­i­cised. This on­go­ing fi­asco is crip­pling Ar­gyll and Bute’s agri­cul­ture in­dus­try and badly dam­ag­ing our wider ru­ral econ­omy.

Ru­ral Scot­land de­serves bet­ter than this in­sti­tu­tional in­com­pe­tence from the Scot­tish Govern­ment. Coun­cil­lor Alas­tair Red­man, Is­lay.

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