Countdown to fiscal devolution ‘going well’ despite some challenges

Wednesday, December 20, 2017 - 11:28am

Focus still needed to deliver tax collection systems on time, says Auditor General

On the 1 April 2018 Wales will be given its first devolved tax powers in over 800 years. We originally released a report in 2016 on the way in which the Welsh Government was preparing for this change and our latest report asks how far they have moved on and how the establishment of the Welsh Revenue Authority (WRA) has gone.

We concluded that the Welsh Government and WRA have made important progress in most areas but are now in a critical phase to deliver key projects in the few remaining months to April 2018.

The focus and challenges in the next period to 1 April 2018 are the delivery of robust tax collection systems, including the delivery and testing of the digital systems, and the publication, following customer engagement, of the guidance required by WRA customers when completing their tax return.

The critical timetable for devolved taxes in Wales © Crown copyright 2017, Welsh Government

We have also concluded that the fiscal reform agenda and the WRA Implementation Programme have made good progress on fiscal and legislative frameworks. Their governance structures have evolved appropriately over the year and stakeholder engagement continues to be good.

The establishment of a working WRA is generally progressing well but the delivery of digital tax collection systems remains the highest risk and is entering a critical phase with little room for error. The implementation costs remain within the Welsh Government’s initial estimated range for the development of the WRA. However because the scope and nature of the WRA’s activities has changed during 2017, the initial operating budgets will be higher than previously estimated.

Auditor General, Huw Vaughan-Thomas said today: “Devolved tax powers for Wales is a key milestone for Wales as a nation. It is therefore imperative that the Welsh Government’s and the WRA’s delivery of the remaining projects sticks to the timeline set out and that there is a continuation of the engagement and relationship development with key stakeholders going forward.”