I am pleased to have the opportunity to appear before the committee today in connection with the 2021 Revised Estimates for the Department of Finance for Vote 7 and for the other Votes within the finance group: the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General, Vote 8, the Office of the Revenue Commissioners, Vote 9, and the Tax Appeals Commission, Vote 10. I look forward to an exchange with the committee this afternoon.
I propose to focus on my Department first and to give a brief overview of its structure. The Department is structured around two directorates, the economic and fiscal directorate for programme A and the finance and banking directorate for programme B. This structure remains unchanged in 2021. There are also a number of support divisions that ensure the smooth operation of the Department. In order to provide an accurate cost of the two programmes A and B from a management reporting and oversight basis, the costs of these support divisions are allocated on a 50:50 basis to each programme.
The funding allocation sought for the finance group of Votes for 2021 totals €494 million, which compares to a 2020 Vote group total of €462.7 million. This represents an increase of €31.3 million or 6.7%. The primary driver of this increase is the provision of a €30 million increase for Vote 9, the Office of the Revenue Commissioners, relating to costs associated with Brexit, on which I will comment later.
The net allocation sought for the Department of Finance Vote in 2021 is €39.5 million, of which some €11 million is provided for a fuel grant scheme for disabled drivers and a further €200,000 to fund the Commission on Taxation and Welfare. Leaving these aside the Department’s allocation provides for the administrative and non-administrative costs of the Department. The vast majority of this, €21 million or 53%, is provided to cover salaries and allowances, with a further €4.8 million to cover facilities and non-pay costs. There is an allocation of €370,000 to cover the Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal and €570,000 for the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman. The remaining €2.6 million is provided to cover the legal, advisory and committee costs necessary to support the Department in the proactive delivery of its remit.
Vote 8 is the allocation for the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General. The Comptroller and Auditor General is an independent, constitutional officer whose mission is to provide independent assurance that public funds and resources are used in accordance with the law, managed to good effect and properly accounted for, and to contribute to improvement in public administration. The Comptroller and Auditor General is required by law to issue opinions on the accounts of Government Departments and public bodies which are audited by him; publish reports on important matters at his discretion relating to value for money and the administration of public funds; and authorise, under the comptroller function, the release of public money from the Exchequer for purposes specified by law. The office assists the Comptroller and Auditor General in his statutory functions and is staffed by civil servants.
The Comptroller and Auditor General's role covers around 290 sets of accounts produced by public bodies. Together, those bodies have financial transactions which total more than €200 billion of public money each year. The net allocation for this Vote in 2021 is €9.6 million, an increase of approximately 5.6% from 2020.
Moving on to Vote 9, the Office of the Revenue Commissioners, as the Irish tax and customs administration, plays a vital role in our economy by collecting taxes and duties due to the State. For 2021, Revenue has requested a net budget allocation of €441 million, an increase of €29.93 million or 7.2% on the 2020 Estimate. Over three quarters of the total budget allocation relates to payroll for an increased employment ceiling of 7,024 staff. In 2020 Revenue collected more than €82 billion gross and €72 billion net in taxes, duties and other charges. The cost of administration is 0.6% of net collection. The increased portion of the allocation is to fund requirements directly related to Revenue’s customs service, and primarily to the UK withdrawal from the European Union. The amount will provide for the full year cost for an additional 310 staff. The additional staff and related resources such as vehicles and equipment are being deployed to deliver on the objective of supporting and facilitating trade to address and manage the challenge of trading with the UK, now a third country, and to deliver on the objective of disincentivising and combating illegal activity and prohibited importations. In summary, this allocation will enable Revenue to implement customs controls in a manner that encourages legitimate trade, enhances competitiveness and supports business while managing compliance risks.
Revenue is also continuing to support the delivery of considerable Government supports to manage the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on personal and business life. This includes the employment wage subsidy scheme, EWSS, the Covid restrictions support scheme, CRSS, and the debt warehousing scheme. These economic support measures have been implemented by Revenue in an efficient and effective manner without incurring additional costs. As 2021 progresses, Revenue will continue to manage the impact of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union and to respond to the continuing challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic, while collecting the taxes, duties and other charges on behalf of the Exchequer.
Finally, Vote 10, the Tax Appeals Commission, TAC, has a net budget allocation of €3.2 million for 2021, a slight decrease on the 2020 estimate of €3.233 million. The 2021 Estimate is to provide for the TAC to advance its programme of modernisation and reform and to address its caseload, while also meeting its obligations. In July 2020, I appointed the inaugural chairperson of the TAC to take overall responsibility for delivery of its mandate. I am pleased and encouraged to say the TAC is now making progress in reducing the backlog of appeals and there has been an increase in the number of determinations issued, notwithstanding the challenges of the pandemic.
I expect we will continue to see further progress into 2021.
I thank members for their attention and I commend the 2021 Revised Estimates for the Finance group of Votes to the committee.