Magazine article Public Finance

Rural Payment System No Nearer Being Fixed

Magazine article Public Finance

Rural Payment System No Nearer Being Fixed

Article excerpt

The troubled Rural Payments Agency has admitted it will still be 'some time' before it fixes the IT systems that have left the £1.6bn Single Payments Scheme for farmers mired in crisis since 2005.

The Commons Public Accounts Committee has repeatedly criticised the RPA and its parent, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The fiasco has left farmers out of pocket and the department facing costs of hundreds of millions of pounds.

The committee attacked 'comprehensively poor administration on a grand scale' in its December report. It focused on the agency's £350m IT system, which was at risk of becoming obsolete.

Data held in the system remained 'riddled with errors', the MPs said. Efforts to keep the IT systems running continued to 'soak up' money, with another £84m handed to contractors Accenture in the past two years.

But, in a response buried in Treasury minutes this month, Defra said it only 'partially' accepted the PACs recommendation that it should draw up a business case for a new IT system. …

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