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CAP payments: IT scheme is significant risk to Government

Photo: PA

An IT programme set up to deliver financial support to rural businesses still presents significant risks and costs for the Scottish Government, according to Audit Scotland.

The body has reviewed the progress made in resolving serious issues with the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Futures programme.

It was created to enable the Scottish Government to provide financial support to farmers and rural businesses across the country.

Credit: PA

The Scottish Government oversaw the £178 million IT and business change programme, which closed at the end of March.

Over the last year, significant changes in leadership have been introduced which have brought about a renewed effort to stabilise the programme. However, to date the programme has not delivered value for money or planned benefits for applicants.

The applications process has improved, but Audit Scotland says there are still problems with making payments:

The Scottish Government will need to incur further costs to develop the IT systems used for payment applications and maintain existing processes. There is not yet a fully developed or tested plan for recovering the systems in the event of a breakdown.

– AUDIT SCOTLAND

The Scottish Government has used loan schemes to get money to farmers more quickly.

Payment delays for 2016 applications meant loans took longer to recover than planned, which introduced more risk to the wider Scottish budget and put pressure on payment timescales and staff.

The Scottish Government is making changes to improve longer-term strategic thinking and capacity:

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."

– CAROLINE GARDNER, AUDITOR GENERAL FOR SCOTLAND