Scotland’s farm payments crisis won’t be sorted until 2018 “at the earliest”, a damning report into the scandal has revealed.
Audit Scotland 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”.
And the Scottish Government could 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 in 2015, with major delays starving the rural economy of hundreds of millions of pounds.
Now 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 weaknesses in 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.
Finlay Carson has been calling on the Scottish Government to make public another “highly critical” report by Fujitsu into the IT system. The Scottish Government has so far refused to do so citing “commercial sensitivity”.
Commenting, Galloway and West Dumfries MSP, Finlay Carson said:
“Farmers in Galloway and West Dumfries, and 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.
“It’s yet more evidence that the SNP simply doesn’t care about rural Scotland.
“When it should have been sorting this mess out, it was instead obsessing about independence, and our rural communities have paid the price.
“It’s no wonder voters across rural areas, such as Dumfries and Galloway, are turning their backs on the SNP.”