Reacting to the news that the Scottish Government is having to recruit 20 ‘Digitisers’ to help with the verification process to which all applications for Common Agricultural Policy support payments have to be subjected, Scottish Rural Affairs spokesman Alex Fergusson MSP said he had foreseen the problems.
He asid this week: “During the fiasco that led to the on-line application process having to be extended by a month, as it had been described by most applicants as ‘unfit for purpose’, I said repeatedly that the real problems would come during the verification process. The recent advertisement to recruit 20 further technicians would suggest that I was right and that the end of the application process was just the start of the problems.
“While the Scottish Government must get itself out of the shambles that it has created, it must also ensure that Scotland’s farmers are not further disadvantaged by any delay in the support payments when they become due. Commodity prices are bad enough without the Scottish Government adding to the problem through its own inefficiency. If the IT application system had been ‘fit for purpose’ in the first place we would not be in this situation but, despite throwing millions of pounds of taxpayers money at the problems, we are not much further forward.
“The Cabinet Secretary must negotiate with the EU to ensure that payments are made on time – if they are not, he will have no-one to blame but himself.”