HMRC has announced former Ministry of Defence (MoD) permanent secretary Jon Thompson as the department’snew chief executive.
While Thompson’s predecessor Lin Homer was often criticised for her lack of experience in senior financial roles, as a qualified member of CIPFA, Thompson’s career features a number of high-ranking finance positions, and his Twitter profile lists accountant as his profession.
Thompson will steer HMRC through its making tax digital plans, and he inherits an organisation facing criticism from the Public Accounts Committee with disgruntled staff facing redundancy.
Thompson said: “While it will be a wrench to leave the Ministry of Defence, I am excited to be taking up the challenge of leading the delivery of the department that raises the revenues that pay for the nation’s public services.”
Thompson has been the MOD’s permanent secretary since September 2012, after spending three years as its director of general finance. As permanent secretary, he led the MoD’s strategy, performance, reform, organisation and finance functions.
In contrast to Homer, who conceded to not being a ‘tax expert’ at the recent PAC Google tax settlement hearing, Thompson’s previous role as director general finance covered statistics, economics and analytics, as well as financial management, systems, internal audit and financial services. In this position, Thompson served as the head of the government finance profession at the Treasury.
Prior to joining the civil service, Thompson worked for Ernst & Young managing public services consultancy and audit services for the south west, and also served as Ofsted’s first finance director.
Thompson will take up the position shortly.
Edward Troup promoted to HMRC executive chair
HMRC’s current tax assurance and second permanent secretary commissioner Edward Troup has been promoted to executive chair, effective from 5 April. Troup will chair HMRC’s board under its new leadership structure, while Thompson will chair the executive board and will be the accounting officer.
Commenting on his new role, Troup said: “I look forward to leading HMRC along the path of transformation that has been established and to ensuring the delivery of the ambitious plan that we agreed with ministers in our spending review settlement in November.”
Prime Minister David Cameron made the appointments with the approval of Chancellor George Osborne and cabinet secretary Jeremy Heywood.
Commenting on the two appointments, George Osborne said: “We have one of the country’s pre-eminent tax experts and an outstanding civil service leader with experience of transforming large organisations. Edward’s wealth of experience in tax and Jon’s operational and financial expertise, most recently as permanent secretary at the Ministry of Defence, will prove a huge asset to HMRC as it improves its customer service and continues its vital work to clamp down on tax avoidance and evasion.”
What do you think of the new appointment? Will an accountant in the HMRC hot seat bring positive change in the department’s relationship with the profession?