Another £860k ploughed into failing CAP IT system


Scottish Liberal Democrat rural affairs spokesperson Mike Rumbles MSP has revealed that the Scottish Government has had to put another £860,000 into the notorious CAP IT system.

The Scottish Government has specifically invested £860,000 in addressing the “sub-optimal code within the Rural Payments and Services IT platform and re-testing” in order to rectify problems with the CAP IT system.

Mike Rumbles also queried whether the system was “fully functional” and delivering on its duties and discovered there are a number of functions still to be delivered over the next six months.

In addition staff overtime payments for work on overdue farm payments has totalled more than £1.3m since 2015.

Mike Rumbles said:

“The failing CAP IT system has been a sore point for the Scottish Government and while rural communities continue to suffer it has ploughed hundreds of millions of pounds down this IT black hole. Staff have had to work extra hard to sort out the blunders.

“Messing up CAP delivery has become the norm for this government. Given the last three years of delays and procrastination I’m unsurprisingly sceptical of promises that remaining functions will be delivered over the next six months.

“The Cabinet Secretary has revealed to me they’ve had to chuck another £860k at this project to get more of it working. We need to see a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s time the Minister told the public when farm payments will really be back on track.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

Full details of the Mike Rumbles’ questions can be found below.

Mike Rumbles (North East Scotland) (Scottish Liberal Democrats): To ask the Scottish Government how much it has cost each year to rectify the reported problems with the IT system that it introduced to process common agricultural policy basic payments, broken down by type of expenditure. S5W-15949

Fergus Ewing: Between the start of the CAP Futures Programme in 2012 and  31 March 2017 the Scottish Government invested £166 million (of the £178 million identified in the final business case) in the design and delivery of the Rural Payments and Services IT Platform. This investment also covered rectifying issues and problems as they came to light in the development of the system. The £178m for the functionality originally identified in the scope of the final business is being held to.

Following the closure of the CAP Futures Programme on 31 March 2017, to date, we have specifically invested £860K in addressing the sub-optimal code within the Rural Payments and Services IT Platform and re-testing, providing a measurable improvement in reliability. This work has been done alongside a much broader set of activities to put the CAP payment system on a stable footing and bring in new features (for example the new Land Parcel Information System) that increase the effectiveness of the system and improve services for customers.

Mike Rumbles (North East Scotland) (Scottish Liberal Democrats): To ask the Scottish Government whether the IT system that it introduced to process common agricultural policy basic payments is (a) fully functional and (b) delivering all of the duties for which it was originally planned and, if not, by what date it will be. S5W-15948

Fergus Ewing: The Rural Payments and Services IT platform has been operational for some time allowing compliant payments to be made. Nearly all of the key functionality identified in the final business case of the Futures Program has now been provided. Some remaining functionality is outstanding, most of which will be delivered in comparatively small releases over the next six months.

CAP 2015 is highly complex and replaced two former schemes with six new schemes under Pillar 1. In developing its IT system, Scotland faced a harder task than other parts of UK, because of the complex nature of our land and the implementation of our targeted policies under Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 that have been developed to meet the requirements of our agriculture industry. Under EU rules only claims which have been fully checked and validated can be paid, adding to the complexity of the IT system. EU conservative estimates are that, generally, CAP 2015 is 20 % more complex to administer.

The system is currently helping to process around 41,800 claims per year for approximately 20,000 customers; mapping 700,000 land parcels and 1.7 million internal features to an extremely high level of precision covering 4 million hectares of land; and helping to pay over £540 million annually to customers to the benefit of Scotland’s rural communities and our rural economy.

Of course, the system was built with the intention of continuing to meet the current CAP requirements and provide the core functionality for the next CAP implementation. This was prior to the UK Government’s decision to take us out of the EU.


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