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Audit Report Strengthens Case for Budget Transfer

by 5m Editor
5 March 2009, at 9:03am

SCOTLAND, UK - A National Audit Office (NAO) report, which criticises Defra’s track record on financial reporting of animal disease control, reinforces the need to devolve Scotland’s share of its animal health budget, says NFU Scotland.

The report, by the NAO Comptroller and Auditor General, condemns the way Defra presents its financial information in respect of animal health issues. It adds that financial information from Defra is currently focused upon internal management structures and cannot readily be used to calculate accurate figures for the full costs of managing specific animal diseases.

NFU Scotland President, Jim McLaren said the current position of having animal health and welfare policy devolved to Scotland while the budget remains with Defra is unacceptable. "Initial discussions on securing a fair share of the budget to deliver Scottish animal health and welfare priorities have stalled but this report must surely hasten that process," he said.

"The report’s conclusion that Defra is unable to readily measure the full cost of different interventions to protect animal health is alarming. This lack of budgetary awareness has not prevented Defra from pursuing a cost cutting agenda and the report justifies our lack of confidence in its existing systems," said Mr McLaren. "Finances for animal health and welfare remain largely within the control of Defra and unless resolved soon, Scotland’s share will be from a rapidly diminishing pot," he added.

"Devolution of the animal health policy has worked well." Mr McLamen also said the positive relationship between industry stakeholders and the Scottish Government has seen Scotland ably tackle diseases such as Bluetongue, bovine TB – even FMD.

"Scotland is both willing and able to run its own affairs on animal health and welfare and this impasse on funding must be resolved in order that the effective partnership between industry and the Scottish Government can reach its full potential," Mr McLaren said.