Scottish Government’s £178 million programme needs scrutiny
NFU Scotland has submitted fresh evidence to the Auditor General for Scotland on the Scottish Government’s IT programme at the centre of Scotland’s failure to deliver support payments to farmers and crofters.
The Union was responding to a request for comments on the Futures Programme – an IT enabled change programme installed to implement CAP reforms in Scotland. To date, almost 10,000 Scottish farmers and crofters have yet to receive a single penny of the support available under new CAP schemes and less than a quarter of Scotland’s £400 million budget for the basic scheme has been delivered into the rural economy. That is creating a cash flow crisis hitting many rural businesses.
In its previous report on the Futures Programme, the Auditor General recognised that it is costing significantly more and taking longer to implement than planned. In her last report to the Scottish Parliament’s Public Audit Committee, she said that capital spending on the programme in 2014/15 was £50 million – £32 million more than budgeted – and that the total forecast cost of the programme is now £178 million. That is a staggering 74 per cent above the amount included in the original business case. The largest element of spend relates to the IT delivery partner. At a cost of £45 million in 2014/15, this is more than twice the amount forecast.
NFU Scotland is deeply disappointed that the programme has failed to deliver payments to farmers and crofters in line with the timetable set out by the Scottish Government. It remains concerned that these delays will continue throughout this year and that the poor performance of the system will again impact on farmers and crofters who are expected to start submitting their 2016 Single Application Form (SAF) in a few short weeks.
NFU Scotland has given further evidence to the Auditor General as she prepares to report on progress with the Futures Programme to the Scottish Parliament’s Public Audit Committee in spring 2016.
The Union has also written recently to the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment committee about the impact that support payment failures are having on farming and crofting businesses as well as the wider rural economy. That correspondence was also copied to the Public Audit committee.
NFU Scotland President, Allan Bowie said: “The Futures Programme has failed to deliver on any considered satisfactory measure.
“Applicant’s experience with their electronic submission of 2015 SAFs was dreadful, which saw deadlines having to be extended, and the eventual delivery of payments has been horrendous. In the past, virtually all farmers would have received support payments by now and this money would be circulating in the wider rural economy.
“But even now, as we approach March, most people have not been paid and those yet to receive a payment still do not know when it will arrive. With many more payments still due this year (Less Favoured Areas Support Scheme, beef calf payments and ewe hogg payments) the industry has little confidence that the system which has been put in place will deliver.
“The Auditor General and the Scottish Parliament’s Public Audit Committee need to look at what has gone wrong and where the money has been wasted. It is not acceptable that farmers, crofters and the rural economy should be bearing the brunt for Scottish Government incompetence.”

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