Scottish Government could still face fines over CAP IT system failure
CAP payments chaos still presents 'significant risks and costs' for the Scottish Government, says Audit Scotland
Farm - PA
The failed IT system set up to deliver financial support to farmers in Scotland still presents "significant risks and costs" for the Scottish Government, Audit Scotland has warned.
More funding is required to support the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Futures programme, and ministers could still be fined up to £60m for the ongoing chaos, the spending watchdog reported.
Due to the failure of the £178m government IT system, there were severe delays to farmers receiving payments last year, while deadline extensions were necessary in both 2015 and 2016.
- Scottish hill farmers missing out on £190m CAP money, claims Fergus Ewing
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Last year Audit Scotland also produced a damning report into the Government's handling of the IT failures including the handling of CAP payments.
The new report acknowledges the application process for subsidies has improved, but warned that there were still problems making payments and said it still presented "significant risks and costs for the Scottish government."
Payment issues won't be sorted until at least 2018, it sugggested.
Caroline Gardner, Auditor General for Scotland, said: "The challenges of building a complex rural payments system mean the Scottish Government is juggling multiple demands on its time and resources.
"This has had an impact on its progress over the past year.
"It's crucial that knowledge is effectively transferred to staff so the system can be maintained and payments made on time for 2017. The Scottish Government also urgently needs to fully understand the financial risk it faces, so that it can target funding at ensuring the system is compliant and secure."
Scottish Conservative shadow rural affairs secretary Peter Chapman said: “Farmers across Scotland have had to bear the brunt of SNP incompetence for too long.
“It’s bad enough rural communities were starved of hundreds of millions of pounds last year because of this. But now we learn this will keep causing problems for countryside businesses until next year at least.
“In addition, the lack of a disaster recovery solution is alarming. This could be catastrophic if the system was hacked and this was highlighted as a risk a year ago."
Scottish Labour’s Rural Affairs spokesperson Rhoda Grant said the system must be "among the worst" of high profile IT failures under the SNP, while Lib Dem Mike Rumbles said the Scottish Government "repeatedly added fuel to the fire, blunder after blunder".
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