Scotland’s farmer payments crisis continues

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 that, “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, they 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 criticized.

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.

Cllr Alastair Redman