Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has urged Holyrood’s Finance Committee to recall the Head of Revenue Scotland to give evidence after a report from Audit Scotland into the new tax body stood completely at odds with a statement given by the tax chief at the committee where she said “there is nothing negative that I need to report."
The damning report published by Audit Scotland at the end of this week warned that there is a real prospect of delays to the roll out of Revenue Scotland if problems with IT and recruitment are not resolved. Mr Rennie questioned the First Minister on the contingency plans after it emerged that Revenue Scotland is due to have them finalised this month.
The tax body will be taken out of ministerial hands on April 1st next year, when it is intended to be fully operational. Despite the concerns raised in the Audit Scotland report, senior management from Revenue Scotland insisted that all was well with the roll out when giving evidence to Holyrood’s Finance Committee at the end of November.
Mr Rennie said:
“The statement given by the boss of Revenue Scotland that there is nothing negative to report seems to jar with the worrying report from Audit Scotland issued only weeks later where they warned of delays.
“The independent Audit Scotland made clear that there were problems with procuring the IT system and delays in recruiting the staff needed to make the roll out a success. These are ongoing problems which it is likely senior management were aware about at the time of giving evidence to Holyrood Finance Committee.
"SNP ministers boasted about the efficiency of Revenue Scotland before it was even created. Now we discover it is over budget and behind schedule with only months left to put it right.
"To give such a glowing report to the Committee only weeks before Audit Scotland published a damning report is astonishing.
“It may be that Eleanor Emberson has misled parliament. The Finance Committee should call her back in to account for herself."