Answers needed on farm payment application flaws

Over the weekend, a report in the Press & Journal drew attention to serious concerns about the Scottish Government’s management of online applications for support under the Common Agricultural Policy.

A contractor involved in the  development of the new Rural Support and Services website claims that repeated warnings were given about the system’s failings but that these were not heeded.

Further, it is alleged that contractors raising concerns were threatened with dismissal.

I previously raised concerns about the online application system, which allows rural businesses to apply for funding support, during Topical Questions in Parliament. The question was prompted by complaints from the NFUS about the effectiveness of the new system.  The Scottish Government has subsequently bowed to pressure to extend the application deadline by a month to allow applications to be made.

While the delay is welcome the most recent revelations shine a much needed light on the chaos at the heart of the system. It’s shocking that warnings were given about the failings of the system months earlier, but were ignored. The Cabinet Secretary must explain the incompetence surrounding the development of the system and the uncertainty and worry it has caused to our farming sector.  I have lodged Parliamentary Questions to try to get some answers.

In the meantime, the Cabinet  Secretary needs to keep his eye on the ball to ensure that farmers and crofters are not let down by the failures in the SNP Government’s system.