Well, by now we’ve all heard that only 3,500 Rural Payments have been made so far (well below the 25% target) and the rumours from within the Scottish Government are that even if the system was working perfectly, the SEAS system used to generate the payments cannot handle the throughput – and so the payment runs have to be severely constrained in order not to bring the whole system crashing down like a house of cards – so don’t expect much more that 100 payments a day.
Meanwhile, what more of the rumour mill as we approach the end of January and D-Day for Richard Lochhead?
Well, apparently an email has been sent out to the whole project saying goodbye to the Delivery Director who is responsible for this shambolic system. Rumours are that he is now working on another major Scottish Government project through a new company that he set up and registered in Princes Street, Edinburgh. As always, none of this has been confirmed although companies house does show that Spectromax Ltd has been registered and is trading from an office in Princes Street.
More importantly, what of the farmers payments? Rumours are that both developers of the computer system and the RPID staff who have to use it are all complaining that the system will never work. Whilst the EU regulations were complex – something that Richard Lochhead seems to bandy about as an excuse for everything including the shooting of John F Kennedy – that is nothing compared with the complexity of the computer system that has been created. Indeed, some people have reported that the CAP computer system is so complicated that even those people that developed it don’t understand it and cannot get it to work.
Asked if the January target can be met, their response was a unified “not a chance!” Asked about any future targets and deadlines and the consensus is that none of those targets will be met either. Indeed, they expect the news to get worse – not better!
Will the farmers ever see their money? Some believe that there will be Scottish Farmers who will probably never see their money. Indeed, one of the predictions is that the Scottish Government themselves will end up getting their own cheque book out to pay the farmers – but not before some have gone bust or are in dire financial straits.
Needless to say, there are still those workers who were dismissed from the project by the outgoing Delivery Director who believe that by scrapping the whole computer system and starting again from scratch with a much simpler design, even the highly complex EU regulations can be implemented within a few months.
Will the Scottish Government ever take up the offer? Highly unlikely, because before they can do that they need to get their heads out of the sand and accept that the existing £200m system they have all played a part in (if only to turn a blind eye to events at Saughton House) will never work – and they will only admit that when it is too late to redeem anything from the ashes.