South of Scotland MSP, Colin Smyth has raised concerns in the Scottish Parliament over the growing cost to taxpayers of the failings in the Scottish Government’s computer system being used to deliver Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments to farmers.
The comments by the local MSP came during a Ministerial Statement in Parliament by the Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy, Fergus Ewing in which he announced a new loan scheme to help farmers who have not received their European subsidy payments. Many applications to the scheme have been delayed for the second successive year due to problems arising with a new £178m Scottish Government IT system.
Speaking in Parliament, Colin Smyth asked, “Despite the cabinet secretary stating that the Scottish Government has “taken on board the many criticisms and comments that have been levelled at our IT system”, it seems that the solution being proposed today is simply to pour more money into an existing IT system that has so far failed. Can the cabinet secretary tell us exactly how much more money will be spent on an IT system that has lost the trust of the farmers and crofters who have been so badly let down?
In response Fergus Ewing revealed that a further £10m would be spent on the IT system this year.
Commenting after the exchange in Parliament Colin Smyth MSP added, “It is quiet shocking that farmers will have to rely on loans once again this year because the Scottish Government have failed to pay farmers’ CAP entitlements. It is little more than a continuance of the incompetence we have seen from the SNP over CAP payments, with some farmers still having not receiving a penny since 2015. The failure to make these payments on time doesn’t just impact on the farmers, the knock on effect damages the local economy as farmers don’t have the resources to spend locally. The fact the computer system used by the Government is still not working properly and a further £10m will be spent this year to fix it, shows that all taxpayers are paying the price for the Scottish Government’s incompetence on this issue.”
To watch Colin Smyth’s question please see here: https://www.scottishparliament.tv/meeting/ministerial-statement-common-agricultural-policy-a-plan-to-stabilise-future-payments-september-12-2017