Rural Economy And The Environment
- Since October 2011 in excess of £257 million has been invested through the Scotland Rural Development Programme ( SRDP) as capital grants for Rural Priorities, Land Managers Options, Agri-environment Climate Scheme, Forestry Grant Scheme, New Entrants Capital and Start Up Grants, Young Farmers Start Up Grant Crofting Counties Agricultural Grants and Food Processing, Cooperation and Marketing.
- The Agriculture and Rural Economy ( ARE) Directorate of the Scottish Government is Scotland’s Paying Agency for the Common Agricultural Policy ( CAP). The ARE Futures Programme was initiated in 2012 as an ICT enabled business transformation programme to re-engineer the business and IT processes which underpin the delivery of rural payments and inspections. At the Programme’s heart was a new Rural & Payments Services ( RP&S) IT Platform for the implementation and management of the Common Agricultural Policy ( CAP) from January 2015. Programme delivery was significantly challenged to the extent that the singular focus over the last three years has been delivery of the core requirements, in an incremental manner, to enable compliance with the CAP rather than the original wider business transformation. The new CAP introduced the most substantive change witnessed in the last 25 years with increased complexity in the regulations.
- The Futures Programme ended on 31 March 2017. Although there were some significant features of the IT Platform still to deliver (e.g. Scheme and Customer Account Management System ( SACAMS), Land Parcel Information System ( LPIS), Claims to Payment ( C2P) and miscellaneous Pillar 1 and Pillar features), the IT Platform has been running operationally since early in 2015 and has handled claims for three years (2015, 2016 and 2017). By March 2017, the balance of IT related processes and resources within the Paying Agency had shifted from a predominantly development organisation to an operational one with on-going maintenance, enhancements and new features, albeit with some major ones.
- 2017-18 has been a year of transition. This was reflected in the Scottish Government’s Common Agricultural Policy Plan for Stabilisation, published in September 2017 which set out the actions under way to provide stability for rural businesses interacting with the Paying Agency. The Plan set out how the major problems with customer service and payment delay would be addressed, including the remedial action necessary to ensure that reliability and sustainability of the IT Platform along with the planned delivery of new functionality. During the course of the year, the planned new functionality has been developed and added to the IT Platform in a controlled manner.
- Total expenditure on completing the core scope of the Futures Programme is within to the £178 million budgetary ceiling. The new system will process around £3.9 billion worth of payments (Direct CAP Payments and Scottish Rural Development Programme) over the 6 years of the new CAP.
- As part of our efforts to support rural communities we are also putting in place new IT processes to ensure delivery of funding opportunities under the EU's LEADER programme, thereby enhancing local areas by providing easier access to potential resource for grass roots organisations. The IT programme is being delivered in phases with the external facing elements prioritised.
- We are directly supporting a variety of capital investment projects within food and drink businesses across Scotland via the Food Processing Marketing and Cooperation grant scheme, where around £70 million of investment is envisaged between 2014 and 2020.
- To drive the transition towards a low carbon, resilient circular economy, we set our priorities for action in our circular economy strategy Making Things Last published in February 2016, which focuses on key areas including energy infrastructure, construction and buildings, remanufacturing, food and drink and the bioeconomy. Support for a more circular economy, including the actions in Scotland’s Manufacturing Action Plan, is provided through £70 million of funding, including £30 million of EU Structural Funds. The Circular Economy Investment Fund is now up and running and has a pipeline of projects in place to support innovation and the development of new business models in SMEs.
- The local authority capital settlement includes an average £42 million a year identified as being available for flood protection schemes. Funding is allocated to individual schemes, which meet the eligibility criteria by the agreement of Scottish Ministers and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities leaders group. This supports the delivery of the priorities set out in the Flood Risk Management Strategies published in December 2015.