MPs launch attack on 'appalling' Lin Homer
HMRC chief executive Lin Homer has been criticised by a group MPs for “catastrophic leadership failure” when she was head of the UK Border Agency (UKBA).
A Commons Home Affairs Committee report released this morning said the committee was “astounded” that Homer was promoted to her HMRC role after her lamentable performance during the previous five years at the UKBA.
Committee chairmain Keith Vaz MP said successive UKBA chiefs, including Homer, “presided over chaos” including 100,000 unopened letters.
“For six years, the committee was misled by UKBA chiefs about the agency’s unacceptable performance. It appears more like the scene of a Whitehall farce than a government agency operating in the 21st century,” he said.
Vaz added that the current UKBA backlog stands at the population of Iceland (which is approximately 319,000) and will take 24 years to clear.
The report said the committee had been supplied with incorrect data by the agency for six years and repeatedly misled by Homer.
“It is appalling that a senior civil servant should have misled the committee in the way that Ms Homer did and that she continues, even in the light of the inspector’s findings, to try and evade responsibility for her failings,” read the report.
“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 for that organisation.”
After documenting the accumulation of unopened letters and administrative backlogs at UKBA, one section of the report noted that after she moved to HMRC, 1m letters were also left unanswered there throughout 2012.
The report argued that Parliament select committees should be able to block the promotions of senior civil servants who had demonstrated "catastrophic leadership" failures.
"We recommend that in future any failures of this nature should have serious consequences for the individual’s career," the MPs argued.
In her defence, Homer said it was unfair to blame her for matters than happened after she left UKBA, or that she had misled the committee.
"The suggestion that I deliberately misled the committee and refused to apologise are both untrue and unfair," she wrote in a letter to Vaz
Following the committee's report, accounting blogger Ken Frost couldn't resist a bit of 'told you so' commentary, having pointed out the scale of the problems Homer left behind at UKBA when she moved to HMRC in 2011.
“Had they been on the ball in 2011, they would have seen that everyone else was also astounded that this walking disaster area was placed in charge of a failing department,” he blogged.
Homer became director general for the Immigration and Nationality Directorate in August 2005 and was UKBA’s first chief executive.