This overview gives a summary of Revenue Scotland’s purpose and objectives, key risks to the delivery of those objectives, together with its budget and performance for the year. Further detail is included within the Performance Analysis section on page 29.
The performance report includes a short performance summary and an analysis section which considers performance against the strategic objectives of the Corporate Plan 2018-21. The Annual Report and Accounts for 2021-22 will report our progress against our Corporate Plan for 2021-24.
Who we are and what we do
Revenue Scotland was established by the Revenue Scotland and Tax Powers Act 2014 (RSTPA) and is responsible for the collection and management of the taxes fully devolved to Scotland – currently Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) and Scottish Landfill Tax (SLfT). As a Non-Ministerial Office, Revenue Scotland is part of the Scottish Administration and is directly accountable to the Scottish Parliament to ensure the administration of tax is independent, fair and impartial.
The Scottish Government is responsible for tax policy and the setting of tax rates. Revenue Scotland supports policy development through the provision of information, advice and data based on our operational experience. The Scottish Fiscal Commission (SFC) is responsible for providing independent forecasts of tax revenue in line with the Fiscal Framework. To support forecasting work, Revenue Scotland provides the SFC with SLfT and LBTT data in an anonymous, aggregated form. Revenue Scotland delegates the delivery of specific functions for the collection of SLfT to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA). We also work with HMRC for the purposes of compliance activity, and with the Welsh Revenue Authority and other tax authorities on the British Isles Tax Authorities Forum sharing knowledge and best practice in tax collection and management.
How we are governed
The Revenue Scotland Board currently comprises six members appointed by Scottish Ministers through the Scottish Public Appointments process. The Board has responsibility for the strategic direction, oversight and governance of Revenue Scotland. Board members provide specialist knowledge in key areas and act as ambassadors for the organisation. The Board has two committees; the Audit and Risk Committee (ARC) and the Staffing and Equalities Committee (SEC), which undertake detailed scrutiny of key areas of work and report on these to the Board. The Chief Executive is accountable to the Board and acts in a personal capacity as the Accountable Officer for Revenue Scotland. The Chief Executive is responsible for the day-to-day leadership and operation of the organisation. Further details about the activities of the Board, Committees and staff are contained in the Accountability Report sections.
How we are structured
The Senior Leadership Team comprises the Chief Executive along with the Head of Tax, Head of Corporate Functions and Head of Legal Services all of whom report directly to the Chief Executive. The diagram below shows the teams that sit within the remit of each area.
How we are funded
Revenue Scotland is part of the Scottish Administration and has its own budget set out in the annual Budget Act. Where additional funding for major programmes is required, proposals for funding are developed in line with the guidance on business cases in HM Treasury’s ‘The Green Book: appraisal and evaluation in central government’. Revenue Scotland is responsible for managing its budget for each financial year to deliver its Statutory functions. Revenue Scotland has authority to incur expenditure on individual items but this is subject to the limits imposed by the budget allocated by the Scottish Parliament and guidance from Scottish Ministers.
Revenue Scotland’s Purpose and Vision
Revenue Scotland’s Corporate Plan 2018-21 sets out the Purpose, Vision and Strategic Objectives of the organisation for this period.
Revenue Scotland’s purpose is: “To efficiently and effectively collect and manage the devolved taxes which fund public services for the benefit of the people of Scotland.”
Revenue Scotland’s vision is: “To be a recognised leader in the delivery of tax administration, and as experts in our field; adaptable to change, resilient to challenges and far reaching in our engagement.”
2018-21 Strategic Objectives
1. Excelling in Delivery
Establish ourselves as experts in what we do: collecting and managing the devolved taxes through an accessible, convenient and taxpayer-focused service.
2. Investing in our People
Develop and support a highly skilled and engaged workforce, upholding the standards of professionalism and integrity.
3. Reaching Out
Build on our reputation as an accessible, collaborative and transparent public body, keen to learn from others and share our experiences and expertise.
4. Looking Ahead
Plan and deliver change and improvements to our systems and processes flexibly and on time.
How we deliver our purpose and measure our success
Revenue Scotland delivers its purpose through the strategic objectives in the Corporate Plan. Performance is measured against the strategic objectives through the use of key performance indicators as set out in the Corporate Plan, and against the delivery of milestones relating to the objectives of the Key Projects. The business plan sets out projects and other cross cutting pieces of work which help us deliver the strategic objectives in the Corporate Plan, and it also informs team plans and personal work objectives. This structure provides a clear ‘line of sight’ between the work objectives of each staff member and the strategic objectives set out in the Corporate Plan. A structured approach to performance management supports how we monitor and record progress across the organisation. Monthly reports are produced for the Senior Leadership Team that capture the collective contributions made to our performance, and a quarterly report is produced for the Board. The performance reports are also considered alongside regular assessment of our operational performance, key performance indicators, financial position, analysis of risk and consideration of our capacity. These all contribute to the performance record and form the basis of our analysis of performance that follows.
National Performance Framework
Scotland’s National Performance Framework (NPF) was launched in 2007, put into law in 2015, and last refreshed in 2018. The NPF sets an overall purpose and vision for Scotland. It highlights the broad National Outcomes that support the purpose and provides measures on how well Scotland is progressing towards the National Outcomes. The following table shows which Revenue Scotland Strategic Objectives are relevant to various National Outcome.
|National Indicator||Excelling in Delivery||Investing in our People||Reaching Out||Looking Ahead|
|We grow up loved, safe and respected so that we realise our full potential.||✔|
|We live in communities that are inclusive resilient and safe.||✔||✔|
|We are creative and our vibrant and diverse cultures and expressed and enjoyed widely.||✔||✔|
|We have a globally competitive, entrepreneurial, inclusive and sustainable economy.||✔||✔||✔|
|We are well educated, skilled and able to contribute to society.||✔||✔|
|We value, enjoy, protect and enhance our environment.||✔||✔|
|We have thriving and innovative businesses with quality jobs and fair work for everyone.||✔||✔|
|We are healthy and active.||✔||✔|
|We respect, protect and fulfil human rights and live free from discrimination.||✔||✔||✔|
|We are open, connected and make a positive contribution internationally.||✔||✔|
|We tackle poverty by sharing opportunities, wealth and power more equally.||✔||✔|
Our commitments in the Corporate Plan 2018-21 to the efficient and effective collection of tax, encouraging a culture of responsible tax paying and ensuring compliance with the wholly devolved tax regimes, ensures the availability of revenue to support the delivery of public services in Scotland and across all of the National Outcomes. In addition, Revenue Scotland contributes directly and indirectly to the National Outcomes through investment in staff, commitment to equality, diversity and human rights, through working in collaboration with stakeholders and taxpayers and acting in an open, transparent and accountable manner.
Key Issues and Risks
There have been a number of issues faced by Revenue Scotland in 2020-21. The Revenue Scotland Board has been kept informed throughout and has scrutinised and monitored progress in managing these risks and issues.
Responding to the coronavirus pandemic to ensure continuity of business
The biggest challenge of 2020-21 was the need from March 2020 to respond proactively to the coronavirus pandemic in order to maintain the successful delivery of our services to taxpayers and their agents. Revenue Scotland rapidly transitioned to a remote working model at this time, where the majority of staff successfully worked from home to deliver those functions that could be performed well in a remote environment.
A small staff presence was required for a period at a fixed location in order to support the continued delivery of key functions, such as the banking of cheques, mail management, IT support and customer calls. The need for a physical presence to support key functions was regularly reviewed by the Business Continuity Group (BCG) and reduced over time, until January 2021 when staff attendance was no longer required. Although decision making had to be largely reactive and responsive due to the exceptional circumstances in which we were operating, Revenue Scotland was guided by the following principles which provided a strategic focus and which underpinned the way in which we conducted our business:
- Staff health and wellbeing
- Continuing to fulfil statutory functions
- Maintaining excellent customer service
To support taxpayers and their agents during the lockdown period, and to ensure the continued delivery of our statutory services, a number of key operational decisions were taken. In summary, these were:
- Making the Scottish Electronic Tax System (SETS) available to staff working remotely
- Rollout of softphone call handling to enable remote working (including introduction of inbound/outbound call recording)
- Removing the facility to make tax returns on paper and cheque payments to Revenue Scotland in favour of digital tax returns and electronic payments following an equality impact assessment;
- Suspension of penalties and debt pursuit during the period of the COVID-19 pandemic. These decisions were approved by the Board and noted by Scottish Ministers. The case was also made for penalties and debt to be handled particularly sensitively during this time
- Delivering employee induction and critical learning and development programmes virtually;
- Decisions regarding the need for the use of an office facility on a part time basis for a period during 2020
The Chief Executive commissioned Scottish Government Directorate of Internal Audit and Assurance to evaluate our response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and capture the learning from the experience. The Internal Audit team, provided by Scottish Government’s Directorate of Internal Audit and Assurance (DIAA), were supported by EY in delivering this work. Key findings delivered by the DIAA included:
Business Continuity decision making:
Decisions made by the Business Continuity Group were timely, focussed and supported by cross-organisational working.
Staff engagement and health, safety and wellbeing:
Revenue Scotland actively engaged with staff to understand and improve their remote working experience – for example, the feedback from the June 2020 Pulse survey fed into the development of the Scottish Tax Education Programme (STEP). The organisation continues to consider the feedback from these exercises and action that should be taken as a result.
Scottish Tax Education Programme (STEP) re-design:
Revenue Scotland has re-designed and rolled out, at pace, the STEP for delivery online, including retraining designated Training Champions. The evaluation exercise demonstrated that the programme is being delivered successfully and key deliverables have been met.
Virtual learning and development:
Revenue Scotland has developed multiple training courses and procedures in order to support staff working remotely. This included a loneliness and isolation session in November 2020, further demonstrating its commitment to staff wellbeing.
Specific consideration was given to the risks posed by the pandemic – for example, a dedicated COVID-19 risk register was developed, and appropriate risk assessments were undertaken in order to ensure that staff required to work at St Andrew’s House had adequate space for physical distancing and safe working.
Data security/privacy considerations:
Sufficient privacy analysis and risk assessments were conducted to understand the potential risk exposure when deploying the Rostrvm softphone system, with consideration given to whether personal identifiable information and critical tax information may be overheard by both individuals and smart devices. Access to the system was restricted for individuals who could not adhere to the required privacy controls.
Security considerations in roll out of remote access to SETS:
As part of the SETS remote working roll out, effective security considerations were identified, with appropriate risk assessments documented.
The DIAA, whilst making some recommendations, provided an overall substantial assurance opinion, which means that ‘risk, governance and control procedures are effective in supporting the delivery of any related objectives. Any exposure to potential weakness is low and the materiality of any consequent risk is negligible’. Revenue Scotland successfully moved to working remotely throughout the year as soon as a national “lockdown” was initiated towards the end of March 2020 with no interruption to taxpayers’ ability to submit tax returns and payments. In what has been a difficult and challenging year for everyone, to the credit of Revenue Scotland staff, the key performance indicators set out in this report demonstrate that our high performance levels have been maintained throughout the year.
Delivering Legislative Change
Revenue Scotland has operationally delivered a number of legislative changes made by the Scottish Parliament during 2020-21.
i. Temporary changes to the LBTT nil rate band
As part of its response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Scottish Government brought forward the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (Tax Rates and Tax Bands) (Scotland) Amendment (No.2) (Coronavirus) Order 2020 in the summer of 2020. This increased the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax nil rate band for residential property transactions from £145,000 to £250,000. The new nil rate band applied to transactions with an effective date between 15 July 2020 and 31 March 2021. A graph illustrating the impact of this change on residential returns submitted weekly is included within the Tax Revenue section on page 31.
ii. Eligibility for claiming a repayment of Additional Dwelling Supplement – extension of the period for disposing of a previous main residence
The Scottish Parliament also passed the Coronavirus (Scotland) (No.2) Act 2020 which made provision for a further measure to support homeowners through the period of the pandemic by extending the period in which some buyers can dispose of a previous main residence and still be eligible for a repayment of the Additional Dwelling Supplement (ADS) by 18 months to 36 months. This resulted in some buyers having 36 months rather than 18 months to dispose of their previous main residence and still be eligible to claim a repayment of ADS. This measure applies to those buyers who purchased a new main residence prior to 25 March 2020, with an effective date for the purchase of between 24 September 2018 and 24 March 2020. Such buyers have paid ADS and had not disposed of their previous main residence, but were still within the 18 month time limit to dispose of the previous main residence as at 25 March 2020.
iii. Increase in tax rates for Scottish Landfill Tax
The Scottish Budget 2021-2022 confirmed an increase in the rates of Scottish Landfill Tax from 1 April 2021 as follows:
All of these legislative changes were delivered by Revenue Scotland successfully and on time.
In 2020-21, the progress of litigation cases was significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the national lockdown periods. Following a brief initial pause, Tribunal and court arrangements were quickly in place to enable electronic lodging of documents, and procedural and full hearings of cases to take place virtually. Four virtual Tribunal hearings took place over the reporting year, covering aspects of both of the devolved taxes. Revenue Scotland has had limited print and post facilities and therefore the co-operation of our partners, Tribunal staff, taxpayers and their representatives was an important component in enabling dispute resolution through litigation to continue throughout the year and is greatly appreciated. Revenue Scotland is keen to assess and retain any benefits realised from this alternative means of litigating. Further information about the number of cases appealed to the Tax Tribunals is given in the Appeals section on page 36.
Cyber-security continues to be a high priority for Revenue Scotland, as the related risks develop continuously. Revenue Scotland fully complies with the Scottish Government Cyber Essentials Plus framework to maintain continued accreditation.
To support the collection and management of Scottish Landfill Tax, Revenue Scotland works closely alongside a dedicated team within the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and has delegated a number of functions to SEPA. On 24 December 2020, SEPA was the subject of a cyberattack.
Revenue Scotland, in response, formally requested assurance around any impact and/or loss of shared data and data belonging to Revenue Scotland. It was confirmed that some Revenue Scotland data had been lost during the attack, but the assessments indicated that the risks associated with this loss were low. Data relating to the Scottish Landfill Communities Fund (SLCF) was lost as a result of the attack but this did not affect the operation of the fund and the data is being regathered.
Following a detailed systems check and information security risk assessment, assurance was provided that none of Revenue Scotland’s systems were affected by this attack. Nonetheless, Revenue Scotland set up an Incident Management Team to manage our response to the cyber-attack and to help and support colleagues from SEPA through the process of recovery. SEPA colleagues who support the Scottish Landfill Tax function are now online and the SLfT function is operational in full once again.
This section gives an overview of Revenue Scotland’s performance in 2020-21 against the delivery priorities articulated through the Corporate Plan 2018-21.
Revenue Scotland’s Business Plan includes 14 Key Projects for 2020-21, which represent a large investment and/or which are of strategic importance to the organisation and contribute to the delivery of the Corporate Plan. At the end of 2020-21, most projects were either complete or delivering well.
|Project and scope||Progress||Status|
|1. Legislative Change Projects to deliver tax policy legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2020-21.||Projects delivered successfully and on time for:
i. Temporary changes to the LBTT nil rate band for residential transactions
ii. Amendment to the period for claiming a repayment of ADS iii. Increases to SLfT rates.
|2. Continuous improvement project To manage and deliver enhancements to the SETS system for collecting and managing the devolved taxes.||Since the introduction of the new SETS system in July 2019, working with our supplier, the IT team has successfully delivered 4 continuous improvement ‘drops’ to enhance the functionality of the system.||Complete|
|3. Revenue Scotland Intranet – ‘Revnet’ A project to replace the existing systems used for collaboration and file sharing.||The intranet was launched in May 2020 and further work has been done to populate the site and add functionality.||Complete|
|4. Redeveloping the Revenue Scotland website Procure, design and deliver an improved website for Revenue Scotland by March 2021.||The new Revenue Scotland website launched in early April 2021 (to avoid clashing with legislative changes). Working with our website supplier, the website now sits on new technology, with new content and a new design.||Complete|
|5. Rollout of MS Teams to Revenue Scotland staff MS Teams made available to RS staff to better facilitate remote working.||Working with Scottish Government colleagues, the IT and People Services Teams successfully made MS Teams available to all Revenue Scotland staff, with appropriate guidance and training to facilitate collaborative working in the remote working environment.||Complete|
|6. STEP – Design and Development A programme to design and deliver modules of the Scottish Tax Education Programme for Revenue Scotland staff.||All modules planned for 2020-21 were successfully delivered and adapted for delivery in remote working environment.||Complete|
|7. Third party printing project To specify, procure and deliver printing facilities from a third party to enable remote working/support a new operating model.||Third party printing facilities have been specified and procured. Subject to the accreditation of the print driver, this project will complete in 2021-22, with printing facilities available to all RS staff.||Ongoing|
|8. Penalties and Debt Resumption To implement Board decisions about penalties and debt handling during the COVID-19 period and for penalties incurred previously.||The issuing of penalty notices and the pursuit of debt have resumed on a limited basis. This project is dependent on the completion of the third party printing project (project 7 above).||Ongoing|
|9. Three yearly lease returns improvement project To review the cause of the low rate of submitted returns for three yearly returns to review the tax position of non-residential leases, and to identify further mitigating actions to improve the return rate and the quality of the data received.||Review completed. Further work to be conducted in 2021-22 to deliver improvements.||Ongoing|
|10. Delivery of Performance Management Quality Assurance (PMQA) module To specify, pilot and deliver the functionality of the PMQA module in the SETS system.||Specification and pilot complete. Further work and delivery of the module to be considered in 2021-22.||Ongoing|
|11. Development of Standard Operating Procedures To review procedures in the light of changes to the operational environment arising from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.||Review on track to complete in 2021-22.||Ongoing|
|12. Call Management System A project to gather requirements and plan for a subsequent procurement exercise.||The requirements gathering exercise is complete. Procurement of a support contract will take place in 2021-22.||Complete|
|13. Equality Outcomes and Mainstreaming Report Ongoing work to deliver Equality Outcomes for 2020-24.||The new outcomes and action plan remain on track to be delivered as set out in the Equalities Action Plan. Considerable work has been undertaken to better understand and apply the Fairer Scotland Duty and equalities duties to our work.||Ongoing|
14. Tax Issues Resolution Project A project to resolve a small number of returns/cases impacted by technical issues.
|This carry forward project involved teams from across the tax and finance functions and completed during 2020-21.||Complete|
- Blue: Complete
- Green: On-going in 2021-22 and within project plan parameters
Key Performance Indicators Overview
The Corporate Plan 2018-21 includes 11 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) which demonstrate Revenue Scotland’s performance against the Plan. Full details relating to each KPI can be found in the Performance Analysis and page numbers are given in the table. The KPIs demonstrate our operational performance in the midst of the challenges associated with the transition to remote working. In 2020-21, five out of 11 KPIs were exceeded and some were exceeded by a significant amount (see graphics provided below on KPI 4 and KPI 8).
KPI 4: Average length of enquiries
KPI 8: Proportion of taxpayer or agent-initiated correspondence responded to within 10 working days (excluding opinions)
This represents an improvement on the figure of 96% last year.
KPI 9: (proportion of opinions responded to within 25 days) showed an improvement on the previous year with all opinion requests answered on time. These improvements represent sustained focus on improving processes.
KPI 3: Tax secured through compliance activity, which is discussed in more detail on page 33, saw revenue increased compared to 2019-20 but less than the baseline figure from 2017-18. Significant year-to-year variability in this KPI is expected, hence the additional revenue is compared to the baseline rather than setting a formal target.
Of the three KPIs that were not achieved, the 99% figure for KPI 5, relating to reviews, was very close to the 100% target, with only one review out of 128 concluded slightly late.
KPI 7, which relates to the employee engagement index, saw an improvement against last year’s index figure but the KPI target to be in the top 25% of civil service organisations was not achieved. The Engagement Index increased to 57%, but remains below the Civil Service benchmark (66%) which does not meet our KPI. However a larger increase was seen in the average theme scores (to 71%) across the People Survey which now slightly exceeds the Civil Service benchmark (70%). Subsequent staff engagement identified a number of issues. An action plan was co-produced with staff and is being implemented.
KPI 11, the administrative cost of tax was above the benchmark figure and increased on previous years. While Revenue Scotland costs remained broadly similar to the previous year, the amount of tax collected in 2020-21 was down due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the property market, particularly in the first quarter of the year.
|1.||Average waiting time for all calls made to the support desk||<10 seconds||4.5 seconds||7 seconds||Achieved|
|2.||Proportion of all tax returns that receive no Revenue Scotland intervention||Comparison to 2017-18 baseline (98.7%)||99.5%||99.6%||Achieved|
|3.||Tax secured through Revenue Scotland's compliance activity||2017-18 baseline (£2.4m)||£862,403||£963,390||*Achieved|
|4.||Average length of enquiries||18 months (548 days)||152 days||175 days||Achieved|
|5.||% of reviews concluded within statutory timescales (75 days)||100%||99% (498/504 cases)||99% (127/128 cases)||Not Achieved|
|6.||% appealable Revenue Scotland decisions which are upheld to conclusion||50%||62% (319/517 cases)||60% (79/132 cases)||Achieved|
|7.||Employee engagement index (EI) to be in the top 25% of all civil service organisations||Top 25% of organisations||99th of 106 orgs EI = 54%||98th of 106 orgs EI = 57%||Not Achieved|
|8.||Proportion of taxpayer or agent-initiated correspondence responded to within 10 working days (excluding opinions)||95%||96%||98.4%||Achieved|
|9.||Proportion of opinion requests responded to within 25 days||95%||81% (13/16)||100% (4/4)||Achieved|
|10.||% of level 2 complaints closed within target (20 days)||100%||No level 2 complaints||100% (1 complaint)||Achieved|
|11.||Administrative cost of tax received against OECD benchmark (Revenue Scotland annual resource costs less any programme costs divided by total tax & penalties reported)||0.73% (OECD UK Benchmark)||0.88%||0.998%||Not Achieved|
*KPI3 is compared to the results for the previous year but, due to expected year-to-year variability, a formal target is not set.
The figures given below are the final budget (revenue and capital) after adjustment in the Spring Budget Review.
|Net Expenditure against Resource Budget||Actual Total £'000||Budget Total £'000|
|Financial Year 2020-21 Expenditure||6,233||6,600|
|Financial Year 2019-20 Expenditure||7,067||7,024|
|Expenditure against Capital Budget
(Note 5 of Financial Statements)
|Actual Total £'000||Budget Total £'000|
|Financial Year 2020-21 Expenditure||349||400|
|Financial Year 2019-20 Expenditure||1,827||1,791|
In 2020-21, revenue expenditure was £367,000 (5.6%) less than budget and capital expenditure was £51,000 (12.75%) less than budget. Savings occurred in many areas as a result of pandemic restrictions on office working. In particular:
- Scottish Government HR prioritised recruitment relating to COVID-19 positions with the result that there were delays in recruiting replacements for other positions
- Tax Tribunal hearings were postponed resulting in delays in incurring legal costs
- Staff and Board members did not travel during 2020-21
- Staff working from home did not have access to printing facilities leading to a saving in stationery, photocopy and postage costs
During 2020-21 Revenue Scotland spent £230,000 on costs associated with our responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. These were:
|Staff Seconded to Scottish Government||136|
|Revenue net of repayment, excluding interest payable and revenue losses||2020-21 Tax, penalties and interest receivable Total £’000||2020-21 Budget Act Estimates Total £’000||2019-20 Tax, penalties and interest receivable Total £’000|
|Land and Buildings Transaction Tax||517,354||641,000||597,368|
|Scottish Landfill Tax||106,528||116,000||118,959|
|Penalties and interest||138||0||735|
The values in the above table are for tax returns and amendments submitted during 2020-21 and adjusted for the value of LBTT and SLfT returns received during April and May 2021 which relate to the period up to March 2021. The returns submitted during 2020-21 may include adjustments to returns originally submitted in previous financial years. However, unless these adjustments were received in April or May of the relevant financial period and therefore accrued into the financial statements of that year, these are accounted for in the year of receipt.
The LBTT revenue raised in 2020-21 is dependent on performance of both the residential and non-residential property markets within Scotland. The SLfT revenue raised in 2020-21 is dependent upon categories and tonnage of waste deposited in landfill sites within Scotland.
Independent forecasts of LBTT and SLfT revenue are published by the Scottish Fiscal Commission, which publishes forecast evaluation reports comparing outturn figures to Budget Act estimates, detailing the reasons for any differences observed.
Both taxes were affected by the restrictions imposed during the pandemic as the housing market was effectively closed during the early part of the year and landfill waste was reduced. The housing market recovered in the latter part of 2020-21 although declared tax was reduced due to the temporary introduction of a higher nil-rate band.
A summary of the tax revenue and our resource spend over the period 2015-2021 is shown on page 106 and this forms part of our performance report.
Further information on the collection of the devolved taxes is given in the Annual Report and Accounts for the Devolved Taxes for 2020-21 which is published separately.
Performance Report 2020-21
Performance against the Revenue Scotland Corporate Plan 2018-21 The Corporate Plan 2018-21 sets out how Revenue Scotland will carry out its functions under the Revenue Scotland and Tax Powers Act 2014 (RSTPA). The Corporate Plan identifies four strategic themes and 18 underlying objectives. In addition, the Plan sets out 11 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) which measure the success of the organisation in delivering against these objectives. Our performance against each of the strategic objectives is considered in the analysis below; including discussion of our performance against the KPIs. A summary of the KPI results can also be found in
1. Excelling in Delivery We seek to establish ourselves as experts in what we do: collecting and managing the devolved taxes through an accessible, convenient and taxpayer-focused service. In order to achieve this we have four underlying objectives:
- Provide an efficient and reliable service to contribute to the smooth completion of transactions.
- Be firm and consistent in applying the devolved taxes legislation to collect the right amount of tax.
- Introduce improvements to our systems and processes that are informed by user experience.
- Continue to invest in our relationships with taxpayers and their agents.
These four objectives inform all the work of the organisation in the collection and management of tax and we consider our performance against these. In addition KPIs 1-6 and 8-10 are used to measure performance in this area. the performance summary on p.24.
During 2020-21, the total revenue from tax was:
|2020-21 (£’000)||2019-20 (£’000)|
|Penalties and Interest||138||735|
A reduction in waste disposed to landfill in the first quarter of the year due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was highlighted in Scottish Fiscal Commission’s 2020-21 Forecast Evaluation Report.
The Scottish Fiscal Commission report also highlighted COVID-19 related LBTT policy changes (e.g. the temporary increase in the residential LBTT nil rate band threshold) and the reduced demand for non-residential property because of the pandemic, as significant factors reducing LBTT revenue.
The impact of COVID-19 on residential LBTT transactions is illustrated in the following chart which provides a timeline of the number of residential LBTT returns received each week during 2020-21 and compares them to the previous year. During COVID-19 stay-at-home restrictions, the number of residential transactions dropped to around a third of the previous level, but increased strongly once house move restrictions were lifted and the nil rate band threshold was increased. By mid-September, the number of residential transactions in 2020-21 was exceeding the level observed in 2019-20 and this continued for the rest of the financial year, including a strong peak before Christmas followed by the typical seasonal dip during the festive period and into January/February.
Guidance, advice and support
Revenue Scotland seeks to provide an efficient and reliable service to assist the smooth completion of transactions, with guidance and support to help taxpayers pay the right tax (including a tax calculator); and seeks to be clear about the consequences of non-compliance such as penalties. We aim to respond promptly to enquiries and requests for tax opinions.
Our guidance is regularly updated and improved. In 2020-21, this included updates to reflect the increase in the LBTT nil rate band for residential property transactions set out in the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (Tax Rates and Tax Bands) (Scotland) Amendment (No.2) (Coronavirus) Order 2020. We also published guidance for the Coronavirus (Scotland) (No.2) Act 2020 which made provision for a further measure to support homeowners through the period of the pandemic by extending the period in which some buyers can dispose of a previous main residence and still be eligible for a repayment of the Additional Dwelling Supplement by 18 months to 36 months.
Revenue Scotland also analyses taxpayer feedback and behaviour to identify areas where guidance could be improved in order to provide better support. This work supports compliance activity, identifying common situations where returns have been filed incorrectly and improving guidance to enable returns to be correct first time, avoiding additional administration costs and penalties. In response to feedback from taxpayers and their agents, in 2020-21, a number of pieces of our LBTT and SLfT guidance were amended, most notably sections of LBTT guidance for First Time Buyers and the guidance to explain the circumstances where taxpayers may apply to defer a payment of tax. We will continue to enhance the quality of our guidance where we can to help taxpayers to understand and comply with their tax obligations.
Effectiveness of support and guidance
KPI 2: Proportion of all tax returns that receive no Revenue Scotland intervention, 1 gives an indication of the efficiency and effectiveness of Revenue Scotland’s procedures, guidance and support. The vast majority of returns are submitted electronically and require no intervention from Revenue Scotland. A high proportion of tax returns being accepted as right first time indicates that taxpayers are clear about the amount of tax that they ought to pay, with a target rate corresponding to the 2017-18 baseline of 98.7%. The 2020-21 rate remained broadly consistent with last year, and again exceeded the target, with 99.6% of returns receiving no formal intervention.
Prompt response to taxpayer calls and correspondence
KPI 1: Average waiting time for all calls made to the support desk, gives an indication of how promptly we respond to telephone queries, with a target average waiting time of less than 10 seconds. We continued to perform well within target this year, with a mean waiting time of 7 seconds. For most of the year, Support Desk staff were operating ‘softphones’ while working remotely.
KPI 8: Proportion of taxpayer or agent-initiated correspondence responded to within 10 working days (excluding opinions), indicates how promptly we are responding to queries. The target for this KPI is that 95% of taxpayer or agent initiated correspondence should be responded to within 10 working days, regardless of how they contacted us. In 2020-21 the target has been exceeded with 98.4% of correspondence replied to within 10 days. This is an improvement of 2% on last year.
Prompt and high quality Opinions Service
Revenue Scotland offers an opinions service for complex tax queries where a taxpayer or their agent is uncertain about their tax liability for a specific transaction after consulting the legislation and guidance. The service aims to resolve genuine cases of difficulty or uncertainty, rather than providing a clearance service.
KPI 9: Proportion of opinion requests responded to within 25 days gives an indication of how promptly Revenue Scotland is responding to opinions, thereby quickly reducing areas of uncertainty for taxpayers. The target is that 95% of opinion requests should be fully concluded within 25 days. This year the target was exceeded with 100% of opinion requests (4 out of 4) responded to by Revenue Scotland within 25 days.
Approach to Tax Compliance Revenue Scotland has a duty to protect the revenue and ensure that the correct amount of tax is collected. We do this through encouraging a culture of responsible taxpaying, where individuals and businesses pay their taxes as the Scottish Parliament intended. We work to make it as easy as possible for taxpayers to understand and comply with their obligations and pay the right amount of tax, while at the same time working to detect and deter non-compliance.
Our approach to tax compliance, set out in our published Compliance Strategy,2 has three key elements:
1 - Enabling – helping taxpayers comply with their tax obligations – including guidance, a user-friendly online system, support desk, tax opinions and stakeholder engagement.
2 - Assurance – helping taxpayers get to the right position – including checks applied to returns to ensure they are complete and accurate and highlighting any errors, landfill inspections, sharing of intelligence with other tax authorities, use of investigatory powers, statutory enquiries and assessments.
3 - Resolution – solving disputes, pursuing non-compliance and applying penalties where required.
Revenue Scotland works in collaboration, sharing information, intelligence and knowledge regularly with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Welsh Revenue Authority (WRA,) within the legal gateways in the RSTPA and through Information Sharing Agreements for the purpose of civil or criminal proceedings. We attend regular meetings with HMRC and the WRA to discuss matters of mutual interest regarding our taxes.
KPI 3: Tax secured through Revenue Scotland’s compliance activity measures additional revenue raised as a direct result of determinations, assessments, adjustments and penalties where non-compliance has been identified. The total compliance yield generated from these activities is:
|2020-21 (£’000)||2019-20 (£’000)|
|Penalties and Interest||90||380|
The revenue secured through compliance activity has been slightly higher in 2020-21 than in the previous year, whereas the amount of penalties and interest is lower as a consequence of the decision to temporarily suspend issuing penalties during the year as part of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These figures do not reflect upstream compliance activity designed to ensure for example that the systems and guidance assist taxpayers to comply with their obligations.
Revenue Scotland has a statutory power to enquire into anything contained or required to be contained in a tax return. Formal notices are issued to the taxpayer on the opening and closing of an enquiry. There is a statutory timescale for completing enquiries of three years (1,095 days) from the date the return in question was required to be filed (or if filed late, was actually filed).
KPI 4: Average length of enquiries gives an indication of the standard of service to taxpayers. The target for the year was 548 days (18 months). This target is broadly half the statutory timescale, which reflects the commitment to concluding enquiries in a timely manner, providing minimal uncertainty for the taxpayer. In 2020-21, the average length of enquiries for the year was 175 days, which is well within target and similar to the result for the previous year (152 days). The enquiries undertaken involve differing levels of complexity. The positive figures reflect sustained management focus on enquiry work and relate to 16 enquiries closed during the year.
There are three main routes for taxpayers, agents and other members of the public who wish to dispute an action or decision by Revenue Scotland or on our behalf by our partner organisations.
Complaints are expressions of dissatisfaction about the organisation’s action or lack of action, or about the standard of service provided by Revenue Scotland or on our behalf. They are distinct from tax disputes. Where complaints are received we seek to learn from these to improve our operational procedures and processes. Revenue Scotland’s complaints handling procedure seeks to resolve taxpayer dissatisfaction as close as possible to the point of service delivery and to conduct thorough and impartial investigations of complaints so that evidence-based decisions can be made on the facts of the case. The complaints handling process complies with the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman’s (SPSO) guidance. This allows for two opportunities to resolve complaints internally: stage 1 – frontline resolution; and stage 2 – investigation.
KPI 10: percentage of complaints closed within 20 working days, measures whether or not Revenue Scotland is promptly responding to complaints and the target is for 100% to be closed within the 20 day period. There was one stage 2 complaint received this financial year, which suggests that our customers have broadly been satisfied with the services provided, and this complaint was closed within the target of 20 working days.
Tax Disputes – Reviews and Appeals
Revenue Scotland aims to minimise tax disputes by providing clear information and guidance to taxpayers and having robust decision making processes in place. In the event of a dispute a taxpayer may request an internal review of a decision, request – or agree to – mediation, or appeal a decision to the Scottish Tribunals. The RSTPA sets out the decisions which are reviewable and appealable. An appeal may be made regardless of whether or not a review has been sought or mediation entered into. The Tax Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (FTTS) decides appeals against Revenue Scotland decisions, and the Upper Tribunal (UT) decides appeals on a point of law from decisions of the FTTS.
KPI 6: Percentage of appealable Revenue Scotland decisions which are upheld to conclusion relates to tax disputes, and includes reviews and appeals to tribunals. The target for this KPI is that at least 50% are upheld and in 2020-21, 60% of decisions were upheld compared with 62% last year. The majority, 128 of the 132 cases (97%) were reviews, with a small number of cases concluded by the Tax Chamber of the First tier Tribunal for Scotland. A large percentage of reviews arise from the imposition of late filing and late payment penalties. The penalty cases that are cancelled, or varied on review generally reflect cases where we are subsequently presented with evidence of reasonable excuse or special circumstances.
Taxpayers and their agents have the right to request that Revenue Scotland reviews any decision that affects whether a person is liable to pay tax, the amount of tax due, the date the tax is due and payable and the imposition of a penalty or interest. Reviews must be concluded within the statutory timescale of 75 days.
KPI 5: Percentage of reviews concluded within statutory timescales (75 days) gives an indication of whether or not Revenue Scotland are providing an efficient and reliable service. The target for this KPI is that 100% of reviews are concluded within the statutory timescale; for 2020-21 we very narrowly missed this target with 99% (127/128) of cases concluded within the 75 day period.
During 2020-21 two appeals were initiated in the Tax Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland. Movements in cases are shown below.
|Number of cases at 1 April||11||13|
|New cases initiated||2||24|
|Cases settled/ decided||6||15|
|Number of cases at 31 March||5||11|
No cases progressed to the Upper Tribunal for Scotland in 2020-21. No decisions were issued by the Upper Tribunal in 2020-21. Revenue Scotland did not receive any requests for mediation in 2020-21.
Investing in our People
The second strategic objective in our Corporate Plan 2018-21, ‘Investing in our People’ reflects the high value the organisation places on the skills, capacity and engagement of the people in the organisation, and recognition of the need for investment to develop and support a highly skilled and engaged workforce, upholding the required standards of professionalism and integrity.
The delivery of this strategic objective is primarily measured by the organisation’s performance against the five underlying objectives set out in the Corporate Plan and through KPI 7. The five underlying objectives are:
- Maintain and enhance a highly skilled workforce
- Support staff to understand their contribution to the wider work of Revenue Scotland
- Maintain a culture where staff feel their contribution is valued and that they have a future in the organisation. Encourage staff to identify with Revenue Scotland’s strategic objectives and contribute actively to their achievement
- Strengthen our leadership capacity
Revenue Scotland’s People Strategy reflects and underpins delivery of Strategic Objective 2. The People Strategy has five themes:
- Our Jobs
During 2020-21 the COVID-19 pandemic presented one of the biggest challenges faced by the organisation. Our staff have successfully adapted very quickly to change, including getting to grips with new technologies and different ways of working. With regards to staff, health and wellbeing during this unprecedented situation has been our top priority, while also maintaining performance across the organisation. A range of measures have been put in place to support this including:
- Training to support staff working remotely and using digital tools to facilitate contact and collaboration. Regular ‘check-ins’ between line managers and staff to discuss wellbeing and workload
- Several individual risk and wellbeing assessments for remote working and provision of any additional equipment required.
- Significant staff engagement in the development of the 2021-24 People Strategy.
Learning and development is a key part of the People Strategy. Revenue Scotland is committed to investing in our people and we recognise that a highly skilled workforce underpins and enables everything we do. The Scottish Tax Education Programme (STEP) project met its milestones with the design and delivery of the foundation modules, and subsequent specialist modules were designed and piloted. With the move to remote working, the modules were successfully adapted for remote delivery, making innovative use of interactive tools and techniques. This has been an outstanding achievement by the small group of staff and training champions who led this. 98% of staff reported their skills and knowledge had improved as a result of attending STEP and 92% reported their performance had improved.
There has also been a strong focus on line manager capability this year to promote collaboration and collective decision making through the formation of the line managers’ group in 2019-20. In addition training has been provided to line managers in managing remote teams, handling sensitive conversations, digital etiquette and digital fatigue for managers. The health and wellbeing learning events throughout the year encouraged staff to lead on their own health and wellbeing.
A staff conference event was held virtually in January 2021 where the main focus was on engagement with the development of our future operating model, and new Corporate Plan and People Strategy for 2021-24. Employee voice is essential for staff engagement and creating the conditions for staff to connect with our organisational objectives and purpose. Connecting as one organisation has been essential to support remote working, this has been supported by weekly all-staff events chaired by the senior leadership team, coffee and chat sessions with the senior leadership team and fortnightly social chats.
KPI 7: Employee engagement index is included in the results of the Civil Service People Survey
In 2020 the employee engagement index for Revenue Scotland increased from the 2019 figure of 54% to 57%. This places RS 98th out of 106 Civil Service organisations compared to last year’s position of 99th out of 106. This means that we did not meet our target to place within the top 25% of Civil Service organisations.
The People Survey uses five questions measuring pride, advocacy, attachment, inspiration and motivation to calculate the Engagement Index. Further detailed questions are grouped under the themes of, ‘My Work’; ‘Organisational Objectives and Purpose’; ‘My Manager’; ‘My team’; ‘Learning and Development’; ‘Inclusion and Fair Treatment’; ‘Resources and Workload’; ‘Pay and Benefits’ and ‘Leadership and Managing Change’. Looking at the average of the scores for these themes, Revenue Scotland’s average theme score (71%) slightly exceeded the Civil Service benchmark (70%).
In addition to staff engagement, we have a proxy stress index that measures conditions that contribute to stressful environments. This is based on the following Health and Safety Executive stress management standards and the people survey insights: demands; control over work; support; relationships; role in the organisation; and change. A score of 100% reflects a negative response to the questions. The 2020-21 results saw our score decrease from 33% to 27% which is a positive improvement and is 1% better that the overall Civil Service score of 28%.
Engagement with staff suggests that staff have confidence in the decisions made by their manager and their manager supports their health and wellbeing. There is a great sense of connection with team and manager, less so in the organisation, we score less than 50% in any of the engagement questions. The priority since March has been to build relationships and the resilience of our teams. We are now seeking to make this happen at organisational level and increase staff sense of pride in the organisation. Our people survey action plan supports the areas for continued development, with a focus on increased empowerment and working through a lens of theme not team to increase opportunities for creativity and innovation.
We aim to build on our reputation as an accessible, collaborative and transparent public body, keen to learn from others and share its experience and expertise.
The building of Revenue Scotland’s reputation in these areas is measured by the organisation’s performance against the five underlying objectives set out in the ‘Reaching Out’ section of the Corporate Plan 2018-21:
- Provide support to the Scottish Government and others on tax policy matters
- Provide support to the Scottish Fiscal Commission in its tax forecasting role
- Support current and emerging public bodies in Scotland and beyond
- Continue to engage with the wide range of skills and experience that exists within the Scottish tax community
- Keep up to date with innovative developments in tax administration in other countries
Revenue Scotland meets regularly with the Scottish Government and Scottish Ministers, providing advice based on our operational experience to support the development of policy and legislation. Another of our core roles is to provide data and information about the performance of the devolved taxes to the Scottish Fiscal Commission (SFC), which is also publicly available, to support the independent forecast of Scottish tax revenue. The organisation also produces statistics on both devolved taxes which are published on the Revenue Scotland website.
We engage more widely with MSPs and give written and oral evidence where required to the Finance and Constitution Committee of the Scottish Parliament. Due to the global pandemic, and almost every organisation working remotely, opportunities for external engagement have been more limited this year, but activity in this area is expected to increase again with a range of virtual and hopefully, in-person engagements planned for the future.
Revenue Scotland also engages regularly with other public bodies in Scotland, the rest of the UK and beyond, and this continued during 2020-21, engaging with HMRC and the Welsh Revenue Authority in particular on tax administration, and with other public bodies on a range of corporate issues. These include areas such as risk management, business planning and equalities and diversity.
We have engaged with stakeholders core to the two devolved taxes on a range of issues, with meetings taking place virtually in the absence of the opportunity to meet in person.
Staff attended a range of events to engage with organisations and individuals across Scotland’s diverse tax, financial and legal sectors. For example in 2020-21 Revenue Scotland staff regularly attended virtual events run by the Women in Tax Network. We held an all-staff event with colleagues from the Welsh Revenue Authority who shared some of their experiences of collecting and managing the Welsh devolved taxes.
The British Isles and Northern Ireland Tax Authorities (BITA) Forum is attended by the Revenue Scotland, HMRC, Isle of Man Government, the Northern Ireland Executive, the States of Guernsey Taxes Office, the States of Jersey Taxes Office, and the Welsh Revenue Authority. The forum enables the sharing of knowledge, experience and opportunities. As a result of the global pandemic, the forum did not formally meet in 2020-21 but members kept in touch virtually to share learning and best practice in the light of each organisation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Formal meetings are planned to resume in 2021-22 if circumstances allow.
While the opportunity to hold events and undertake external engagement this year has been restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we delivered a project to revise our website. This included moving the website to new technology, refreshing the look and feel of the site, improving the homepage, the ways in which the site and the tax calculators are navigated by users and ensuring that the site meets accessibility criteria. The refreshed website is now live.
Scottish Landfill Communities Fund (SLCF)
In 2015, Scotland started collecting Landfill Tax and established the Scottish Landfill Communities Fund (SLCF). This fund is to provide funding for community or environmental projects in recognition of the dis-amenity of landfill activity. Revenue Scotland is responsible for the appointment of the regulator. SEPA was appointed in 2015 and is the regulator of the SLCF.
Unfortunately, due to the SEPA cyber-attack the functioning and administration of the Fund has been impacted. A recovery plan is in place and working to restore all functions affected, but this has delayed the ability of SEPA to produce the annual report on the performance of the Fund.
The SLCF continues to function well. Approved Bodies continue to receive contributions, enrol projects and ensure that projects are delivered successfully.
This capability was not affected by the cyber attack on SEPA in December 2020.
The cumulative sum that has been paid into the fund stands at £47.2m. This reflects the value of qualifying contributions made to the fund this year of £5m. The amount of contributions has declined by almost £2.7m in two years. This decline is in line with the Scottish Fiscal Commission forecast from February 2020. This is a trend that is likely to continue, linked to a forecast reduction in landfilling in anticipation of the implementation of the ban on Biodegradable Municipal Waste to landfill in January 2025.
The fourth strategic objective in the Revenue Scotland Corporate Plan 2018-21, ‘Looking Ahead’ aims to plan and deliver change and improvements to our systems and processes flexibly, on time and on budget. The delivery of this strategic objective is primarily measured by the organisation’s performance against the four underlying objectives set out in the Corporate Plan and through the KPIs. The underlying objectives are:
- Provide the organisation with flexibility and resilience by investing in staff skills and knowledge
- Develop our systems and processes to meet our users’ requirements and adapt quickly to change
- Fostering a culture of continuous improvement to enable us to adapt and respond to the need for change
- Put in place proportionate resources for the challenge ahead
Optimising service delivery
Efficiency KPI 11: Administrative cost of tax received against OECD benchmark is calculated as Revenue Scotland’s annual resource costs less any programme costs divided by total tax and penalties reported.
This KPI measures the administrative cost of tax received3 and operates to a target of 0.73% which is the most recent benchmark calculated by the OECD for taxes collected in the UK – the median of all OECD countries is 0.87%. Although Revenue Scotland’s costs have remained broadly similar, this ratio has increased from 0.88% in 2019-20 to 0.998% in 2020-21 due to a fall in the amount of tax collected in the first half of the year. This reflected the impact on the devolved taxes of the onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic – for example, LBTT was strongly affected by restrictions on home moves in place from 31 March 2020 until 29 June 2020. Where typically around half of the tax revenue would be declared during the first half of the year, this dropped to around a third in the first half of 2020-21 and, although there was strong recovery in the second half of the year, the overall result for the year was a reduction in revenue and hence an increase in this KPI.
Over the course of the year we have established a strategic framework which sets out the strategies that support the delivery of the Corporate Plan and Target Operating Model. The Business Plan, now modelled over a three year period, sets out the projects and other cross-cutting work that the organisation will undertake to achieve the strategic outcomes and strategic objectives set out in the Corporate Plan. All of this work is supported by team planning and the personal objectives of each member of staff and their line manager. In this way. there is a clear “line of sight” from the objectives of each member of staff and each team. through the cross-cutting projects to the strategic outcomes of the Corporate Plan.
Our third Corporate Plan covering 2021-24 will set out Revenue Scotland’s ambitions and future priorities. Our objectives for the next three years are focused on four strategic outcomes, with some examples of our ambitions and activities set out below. Key aspirations for the organisation over the next three years include:
- through the collection and use of data and joining up datasets, we will help better inform policy
- through maximising technology and being digital by design, we will continue to strive to ensure our processes are as efficient as possible
- through continuously improving the accessibility of our guidance and information on taxes we administer, we will seek to make it easier for taxpayers to comply before we have to get involved, so that our compliance efforts are focused on the key areas of risk
- through building on our reputation for working collaboratively with stakeholders including taxpayers and their representatives, we will have a key role to play in delivering public services which have a positive user experience at their heart
Excelling in Delivery
We offer user-focused services that are digital by design, and provide value for money, convenience and ease of use for internal and external users.
As a maturing and dynamic tax authority, we are looking to further improve the delivery of the services we provide and the use of the data we hold. Our continuous improvement programme for our SETS system (the online platform for making tax returns) will seek to enhance the functionality of the system for the benefit of those who use the system.
Investing in Our People
We are high performing, outward looking and diverse, provide a great place to work as an employer of choice. Our staff are motivated and engaged, and we invest in their development and health, safety and wellbeing.
The People Strategy, which is primarily focused on the strategic outcome ‘Investing in our People’ in the Corporate Plan includes our ethos of working collaboratively and, for example, how we:
- support our staff through our learning and development activities
- will increase the diversity of our organisation
- will use data to inform our capability and capacity requirements in the delivery of our organisational objectives
- support the health, safety and wellbeing of our staff
We are accessible, collaborative and transparent, keen to learn from others and to share our experiences and expertise.
We are also looking to develop a contact management strategy that will help us engage with taxpayers and their agents in the way that suits them best and provide them with easily accessible information. We want to provide an excellent customer experience.
We plan and deliver change and new responsibilities flexibly, on time and within budget. We have a digital mindset, maximising the use of our data and harnessing new technology to improve our working practices and services.
Having worked remotely from our offices for a significant period, we will be piloting a hybrid model of working that will explore different options, with a view to establishing an optimum model for the longer term. This will be articulated in a new target operating model.
Devolved Taxes – Revenue Forecasts
The Scottish Fiscal Commission’s forecast revenue for the devolved taxes in the budget for 2021-22 is outlined below, alongside the most recent (August 2021) in-year forecast4 which indicated an increase.
|Devolved Taxes||2021-22 Budget Forecast||In-year Forecast||Variance|
Revenue Scotland operates under an established Risk Management Framework (the Framework) which aligns with the best practice guidance presented through the Scottish Public Finance Manual and Scottish Government’s Risk Management Guidance document. The approach to Risk Management has been in place throughout the reporting year and significant activity by the Board and senior management has focused on ensuring that the approach is robust, fit for purpose and responsive to the tax authority’s operational needs. The approach has been designed to manage and mitigate risk to a reasonable level rather than seek to eliminate risk. As a dynamic approach, this also allows the organisation to map uncertainty where it exists and address that as a component of risk management and therefore monitor this routinely, or look to address it through specific business activities which ties to team and organisational performance management structures more closely. Each of the corporate risks has a ‘risk card’ in which the risk are expressed in terms of the risks to the strategic objectives set out in the Corporate Plan 2018-21. Revenue Scotland also regularly monitors risk in relation to performance against the KPIs which measure delivery of the Corporate Plan, and in relation to the Business Plan, which sets out the key projects and cross cutting pieces of work each year.
The Corporate Risks as they stood at 31 March 2021 are set out below. These risks have been actively managed throughout the year by risk managers and risk owners with oversight from senior management, the ARC and the Board.
As indicated in pages 14 to 16, as the organisation continued to adjust its operating model to respond to the on-going health crisis brought upon by the COVID-19 pandemic, a further comprehensive review of the organisation’s risks was undertaken.
This exercise identified those direct operational and existential risks faced by Revenue Scotland as the operating model moved rapidly from being office based to fully remote and therefore digital. The review informed the approach we took to the decisions that required to be made to ensure operations could continue.
As noted above, SEPA was the subject of a cyber-attack on 24 December 2020. In response to this, Revenue Scotland set up an incident management group to support SEPA colleagues and ensure continuity of business in the Scottish Landfill Tax function. Regrettably, data relating to the Scottish Landfill Communities Fund (SLCF) was lost in the cyber-attack. This has restricted our ability to report in detail on the SLCF in this report.
It was confirmed that some Revenue Scotland data had been lost during the attack, but the assessments indicated that the risks associated with this loss were low. Following a detailed systems check and information security risk assessment, assurance was provided that none of Revenue Scotland’s systems were affected by the cyber-attack.
Equality, diversity and human rights
Over 2020-21, Revenue Scotland continued to work to the outcomes identified in the Equalities Mainstreaming Action Plan 2020:
Equality Outcome 1 – Revenue Scotland will design and deliver public services that meet the diverse needs of its users.
Equality Outcome 2 – Revenue Scotland has an increasingly diverse workforce that fully embraces equality, diversity and respect for all.
As a consequence of the switch to staff working remotely throughout the reporting year, there was some loss of momentum in respect of the action plan. However this recovered in the latter half of the reporting year. A cross organisation equalities group has been established to become the engine for delivery of the action plan outcomes. Progress is reported quarterly to the Staffing and Equalities Committee of the Board.
In addition, the Chief Executive Officer gave evidence to Scottish Parliament’s Equalities and Human Rights Committee in September 2020 on race equality, employment and skills. Revenue Scotland is committed to acting at all times in a way which respects and is compatible with the rights guaranteed under the European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act 1998. Revenue Scotland has published guidance on taxpayers’ rights with regards to penalties under Article 6 of the Convention.
Staff at Revenue Scotland are civil servants who adhere to the Civil Service Code of Conduct. Staff are expected to carry out their duties with a commitment to the Civil Service core values of integrity, honesty, objectivity and impartiality. Staff must not misuse their official position to further their private interests or those of others; accept gifts, hospitality or other benefits from anyone which might reasonably be seen to compromise their personal judgement or integrity. All staff undertake annual mandatory training on Counter Fraud, Bribery and Corruption to remind them of their responsibilities in these areas.
Revenue Scotland is committed to protecting the environment by working sustainably to minimise its carbon emissions, meet climate change duties and embed climate change action into the organisational culture. As part of this commitment, Revenue Scotland has three broad climate change objectives. These are:
- to manage and monitor business travel and encourage staff to use the most carbon-efficient method of transport for all work-related travel
- to minimise waste and reduce Revenue Scotland’s paper use, including through encouraging online tax returns
- to reduce office energy consumption
The Revenue Scotland Board is responsible for the scrutiny of environmental policies, strategies and compliance with climate change duties. Revenue Scotland contributes to the Scottish Public Sector Bodies’ Climate Change report annually. Revenue Scotland is based in the Scottish Government’s Victoria Quay building in Edinburgh which means that the majority of its environmental impacts (e.g. heating, lighting, equipment and water) are monitored and included in the Scottish Government’s annual climate change report. Of course, in 2020-21, the majority of Revenue Scotland staff have been working remotely for the entire year, the exception being those that were required to attend St Andrew’s House in order to support the continued delivery of services and activities that initially could not be delivered remotely.
This means that minimal staff have been commuting to the office, Board meetings have all been virtual and therefore required no travel, paper usage has been extremely limited (zero, other than some outgoing mail from St Andrews House over the spring and summer of 2020), and office energy usage by Revenue Scotland has been zero (although it is likely that the Scottish Government will have heated the whole building in cold weather) while the building has been vacant. Energy use by Revenue Scotland staff is limited to that used by staff while working from home.
Revenue Scotland is preparing a pilot project of a hybrid model of working in 2021 once office accommodation is available for use. It is expected that a hybrid model of operation will become the long term solution for the organisation. Environmental considerations have played a core role in the design of the pilot in support of a green recovery from the pandemic.
Records Management and GDPR
The Revenue Scotland Records Management Plan was approved by National Records of Scotland (NRS) in 2019-20. Through the year the focus has continued to be on the implementation of the plan, including development of training and better defining roles and responsibilities. We also submitted the first Progress Update Report (PUR) to NRS in March where we offered our detailed progress against each of the component parts of the Plan.
The Keeper noted our progress and continued commitment to improvement and stated that based on the progress update assessment provided, the Assessment Team considers that Revenue Scotland continues to take their statutory obligations seriously and are working hard to bring all the elements of their records management arrangements into full compliance with the Act and fulfil the Keeper’s expectations.
We also continued to work towards our digital ambition, rolling out improved digital file sharing capability with partners such as SEPA and with Board members. These improvements have proved crucial in supporting the move to remote working due to COVID-19.
Revenue Scotland has a whistleblowing policy and procedures in place to ensure that issues can be raised. During the reporting periods 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021 and 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020, Revenue Scotland received no whistleblowing disclosures (see the table below):
|Category||Number of Disclosures 2020-21||Number of Disclosures 2019-20|
|Number of non-qualifying disclosures||0||0|
|Number of qualifying disclosures||0||0|
|Number of qualifying disclosures requiring no further action||0||0|
|Number of qualifying disclosures requiring further action||0||0|
No investigations were carried out in this reporting period.
No actions were required during this investigations period.
No improvement objectives were required during this investigations period.
Elaine Lorimer – Chief Executive of Revenue Scotland and Accountable Officer