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Accenture denies blame for late farmer payments

Accenture has denied being responsible for the Rural Payments Agency failing to deliver subsidies to farmers on time.

The IT services outsourcer put in the Rita system used to deliver payments, but less than half of the £1.5bn subsidies owed to farmers, under the Single Payment Scheme (SPS), had been paid by the April deadline.

Appearing at an Environment Food and Rural Affairs parliamentary sub-committee hearing this week, Accenture director Peter Holmes said Accenture had "fulfilled specifications outlined in the fixed term, fixed price contract".

Holmes maintained that the failure to pay farmers on time was down to business processes, not the system put in place by Accenture.

The Rita system has been live since October 2005. The committee heard that a major problem in paying farmers was an unexpected increase in farm land changes that had to be validated. The number of payees also went up.

Accenture said the volume of land changes was over ten times the original expectation, when Rita was originally planned.

MPs on the committee also criticised the fact that Accenture was not involved in the planning to help meet legislative changes, which impacted on payments.

 


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