Politicians from across the north and north-east have launched an attack on the Scottish Government over failings with its farm payments IT system.
This follows the publication today of an Audit Scotland report into the system which revealed it may not be fully functional until 2018.
The Scottish Conservatives’ shadow rural economy secretary Peter Chapman, who is an MSP for the north-east, described the report’s finding that there was no tried and tested disaster recovery system in place as “alarming”.
“This could be catastrophic if the system was hacked and this was highlighted as a risk a year ago,” he added.
“It’s evidence that the SNP simply doesn’t care about rural Scotland. When it should have been sorting this mess out, it was instead obsessing about independence, and rural Scotland has paid the price. It’s no wonder voters across these areas are turning their backs on the SNP.”
Lib Dem MSP for the north-east, Mike Rumbles, said: “We are now seeing the depth of the Scottish Government’s catastrophic handling of farm payments over recent years. This report amounts to a damning indictment of their failures.”
He said delayed payments as a result of problems with the system had “caused lasting damage to jobs, investment and growth in our rural economy”.
Scottish Labour MSP for the Highlands and islands, Rhoda Grant, said: “Audit Scotland has again revealed a catalogue of errors in this project which will cost taxpayers even more than the £178million that has already been squandered.
“This simply isn’t good enough. Our farmers and crofters shouldn’t be left to pay the price of SNP incompetence.”