It is a very complex area, and the report goes across all the sectors that are impacted in the agrifood industry. I have also provided the Committee with the Programme for Government target updates as of 30 September. The Committee will have seen our capital investment plans that we put forward as part of the capital exercise in the October monitoring round. If there are any questions that require further clarification and that we are unable to answer, we are more than happy to respond to the Committee in writing. I seriously doubt that. Each target has been assigned a senior responsible owner, who is at grade 5 level. We can go round again, members.
Members will note that the plan’s structure is similar to previous years, but we have included the vision, aims and strategic goals as set out in the Department’s strategic plan. The results of that are in appendix 1 to the report. Graeme, I want to ask about goal 2, target 2, which is to do with the rural White Paper action plan. Targets 1 and 5 of goal 1 reference the research challenge fund. It is very difficult to achieve that.
The report was subsequently published in January, so that has now been achieved, although I accept with some delay. Because the overall target was achieved we are reporting it as an overall green, but highlighting that two of the different elements were red.
DARD Business Plan
Our analysis appears to show that it is long-term sickness, not short-term sickness, that we are having an issue with. There are different recommendations.
For example, I know darv you have some issues with rural transport, but the whole idea of the rural transport scheme is that people with special needs and disabilities get free or subsidised trips. You said that the rigorous assessment process in meant that not all applications were successful.
The target is back up to where we would expect it to be. In regard to the statement about increased levels of tree cutting to avoid reduced darx hours, how do you explain that statement? It has been submitted to the Executive, and we are awaiting the outcome of those considerations.
In relation to target 1, which relates to Going for Growth, the first that we heard of the pilot scheme was when you presented to us last week. We have already opened a market in Singapore and we continue to engage closely with China, so it is not about just the farm business improvement scheme.
However, am I right in saying that yours is the only Department that can make provision in the budget allocation to cover expected fines?
Am I right in saying that yours is the only Department that can budget for perceived fines? How do we monitor the other Departments to ensure that they fulfil their obligations?
News and Media Centre. We fund various employment schemes. As you mentioned, Chair, I am accompanied by Tom Rodgers from my division, who has assisted with the co-ordination and development of the plan.
That seems to be bringing about an improvement, which I accept is small, but we are seeing an improving picture on staff absenteeism. As you will appreciate, the funding available to the Commission is reducing, so that funding pllan not be available in the future.
Business Plan Progress Report: DARD Briefing
pkan I think that 52 drd are in that, and they have been taken from the individual business areas’ budgets. How do you feel the action of referring staff to the Occupational Health Service has impacted on your working days lost? However, it is simply not quite the issue for that it was forso it is not elevated to the actual departmental plan. That is important, because looking at the targets in isolation does not identify the complexity of the environment. In particular, it is the exit arrangements with our current contractor that provides the APHIS darv.
I appreciate you being concise and clear. I think that it is important to realise that there has been some progress with the rural White Paper.
Official Report (Hansard)
Is that a normal procedure? There were quite a number of recommendations in the report — there were — so it has taken a bit of time to digest those and to put in place the actions. I welcome the witnesses from the Department: In addition to the Programme for Government targets there are individual milestones. How many staff are there in DARD in total? However, in the strategic issues section of the plan, we refer under digital services to the generality of simplifying the processes and procedures that are associated with the administration of the schemes for our customers.
Plaj the funding difficulties, I think that the task is ensuring that, when you lose an agrienvironment agreement, you bring in a replacement to maintain the hectarage level. I appreciate your attendance at the Committee and that you answered our questions. I said “at a future Executive meeting”, I think.