The reason is her department and the Rural Payments Agency have been involved in a monumental mess over the introduction of a new computer system to pay farmers their annual cash from the European Union.
This money is not small beer. This time last year some £1.3 BILLION was paid out to over 96,000 farmers in England and it helps keep our food at reasonable prices in the shops.
Last week the National Audit Office revealed that the computer system set up to pay the money didn’t work properly, cost 40 per cent ( at £215m to the taxpayer) more than planned and , as a result,farmers had to revert to using paper applications.
The report even for National Audit Office terms was scathing. it revealed a total mess across Whitehall with quarrelling officials from the Cabinet Office to the Government Digital Service making a pig’s ear of the whole business.
But worse than this the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs deliberately misled the public and the media about this state of affairs.
Last year when the first farmers received their cash under the old system, Elizabeth Truss couldn’t wait to boast, in a run up to the election, how successful the government had been in getting the money to farmers. You can read about it here.
This year this completely misleading statement was put out and Elizabeth Truss was nowhere to be seen. It boasted of 33,000 farmers receiving the cash. Last year it was 96,000. In other words it had fallen by 65 per cent – an appalling state of affairs.
To my mind the whole saga shows we are governed by a Metropolitan elite – with no press interest in the plight of anyone outside London and complete disdain for rural issues. That is why obviously Elizabeth Truss thought she could get away with no one knowing anything about this mess. And she has succeeded.
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