Mr Smith, who farms 1,000 acres of wheat, barley and rape seed in the landscape west of Clacton-on-Sea in Essex, was shocked by the efforts provided by huge digital re-mapping programme for the government's Rural Payments Scheme. The map had omitted key landmarks and had even mixed up who owned some pieces of land. Three months later a "corrected" map was sent to him. "New errors were made, a 22 hectare field wasn't included at all, I need these as it affects the accuracy of the land holding."
Tenant Farmers' Association, George Dunn said ministers made the mistake of opting for the most complex scheme to deliver the payments to 100,000 plus eligible farmers. The result has been a catastrophe. Payments cost around £1700 each to process in England, while in Scotland where they chose a much simpler system, the cost is one-sixth of that. £285 a claim. The cost of the IT system has rocketed from £53.8m to £350m. Three times the Commons Public Accounts Committee has looked into rural payments, most recently last October, and each time it concluded that the system has failed woefully.