Head of UK tax office Homer slated for ‘failings’

Lin Homer: Headed UK Border Agency before HMRC post. Picture: PA
Lin Homer: Headed UK Border Agency before HMRC post. Picture: PA
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AN INFLUENTIAL group of MPs launched a scathing attack on the head of Britain’s tax office today for her “catastrophic leadership failure” when she was in charge of the country’s border controls.

The home affairs select committee said it was “astounded” that Lin Homer was promoted to the £180,000-a-year role of chief executive of HM Revenue and Customs after her performance during the five years she spent at the top of the UK Border Agency (UKBA).

Ms Homer said it was “unfair” to blame her for matters that occurred after she left.

The case against Ms Homer’s current appointment was made as the committee warned that at the current rate of progress, it would take 24 years to clear a backlog the size of the population of Iceland of asylum and immigration cases at the UKBA.

The report said: “It is shocking that after five years under Lin Homer’s leadership an organisation that was described as being ‘not fit for purpose’ should have improved its performance so ­little.

“Given this background, we are astounded that Ms Homer has been promoted to become chief executive and permanent secretary at Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and can therefore have little confidence in her ability to lead HMRC at what is a challenging time.”

Current UKBA chief executive Rob Whiteman is also criticised, for failing to inform the committee that the agency had supplied parliament with incorrect information since 2006.

The report said: “This in our view is unacceptable and undermines Mr Whiteman’s claims to take the provision of accurate information to the committee seriously.”

In its report into the work of the UKBA between July and September last year, the committee said four new types of backlog came to light, taking the number of cases to 312,726.

The committee concludes that for six years the UKBA “repeatedly supplied it with incorrect information” about the size of the asylum backlog.

Its report said Ms Homer “continues to try and evade responsibility for her failings”.

It added: “The status quo, in which catastrophic leadership failure is no obstacle to promotion, is totally unacceptable. We recommend that in future any failures of this nature should have serious consequences for the individual’s career.”

Ms Homer was appointed head of HMRC in January last year. She has written to the committee in response to its allegations, as much of the difficulties described in its report came 18 months after her departure.

She said: “It is therefore wholly inaccurate and unfair to seek to ascribe responsibility to me.”