Farm payments chaos cost taxpayers £1m, admits Fergus Ewing

Fergus Ewing said the cost was a 'very small fraction' of the money to be delivered by the Scottish Government. Picture: John Paul Photography/PA Wire
Fergus Ewing said the cost was a 'very small fraction' of the money to be delivered by the Scottish Government. Picture: John Paul Photography/PA Wire
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The direct additional costs of last year’s botched farm support payment system – in the form of overtime and additional staffing – could be well over £1 million, it has been revealed.

In a letter to a parliamentary committee, rural economy cabinet secretary Fergus Ewing said that overtime costs across the rural payments and inspections division area office staff in the financial year 2015-16 totalled just under £348,000.

This £1m would have been better spent supporting our farming sector

Mike Rumbles

However, Ewing added that it was not possible to break down this figure to categorise how much of this spend related specifically to processing CAP IT issues.

READ MORE: ‘Flawed’ IT farm payment system under fresh attack

Similarly, while an extra 72 staff had been taken on during the year at an estimated cost of £780,000, some of this had been as part of the Scottish Government’s normal recruitment cycle, while 32 staff members were temporarily appointed “according to business need”.

Admitting that the IT system was expensive at £178m, Ewing said it had been an EU requirement as part of the CAP reform.

“The cost is a very small fraction – about 4 per cent – of the £4 billion that the Scottish Government will deliver using this IT over the seven-year CAP cycle, although the system is expected to last significantly longer,” he said.

The figure drew the ire of North East MSP Mike Rumbles.

“This £1m would have been better spent supporting our farming sector, but in cash terms it is a drop in the ocean compared to how much the SNP’s bungled IT system has cost our rural economy,” said Rumbles, who added that the system had not yet been fixed.

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