HMRC chief executive Linda Homer has been named Dame Commander of the Order of the Bath (DCB), one of the highest accolades in the Queen’s New Year’s honours list.
Criticism of Homer’s honour was swift, following a year in which she apologised for HMRC’s “unacceptably poor” service in front of the Commons Treasury committee. She also faced criticism from the Public Accounts Committee, which accused HMRC of “failing UK taxpayers”.
As the department relies more heavily on technology to cure its problems, questions remain about how well it is actually managing those processes.
Some AccountingWEB members fumed about Homer’s honour on Any Answers. The innkeeper wrote: “What would she have got if the organisation was fit for purpose?”
Time for a change was equally dubious: “Seems to me that everything she's touched hasn’t enjoyed the best of success in previous roles.”
HMRC critic Ken Frost wrote on his blog: “This surely is an insult to every member of staff of HMRC and every taxpayer; ie it is an insult to the entire country.”
Under Homer’s leadership during the past year, HMRC boasted of lowering the tax gap, collecting more tax and ushering in digital services to cut costs and improve the tax system. A HMRC spokesperson commented: “Since joining in January 2012, Lin Homer has led HMRC to deliver more and at a lower cost to taxpayers than ever before. Last year alone we brought in record breaking revenues of more than £517bn and we increased compliance yields to £26.6bn, up by 43% since 2011-12 - all achieved through tougher enforcement and record prosecutions of tax cheats.
“All of this was delivered at the same time as improving our customer service and continuing to roll-out a transformation programme that will see us reduce our estate costs by £100m per year by 2025”.
Homer’s appointment to the Order of Bath included an interesting twist in the honours list, which described her as “Lately chief executive, HM Revenue and Customs”. The “lately” prompted several commentators to speculate whether she has left her HMRC position. An HMRC spokesperson has since denied the commentators assumptions, and told us that Homer remains in her position as HMRC chief exec.
Alongside their CEO, a number of HMRC officials were also recognised for their services to the taxpayer:
- Raj Nayyar, policy adviser, London - OBE for services to tax policy
- Kevin Andrew Courtie, customer relationship manager - OBE for services to prevent tax evasion and to the Scottish fishing industry
- Dorothy Brown, director for personal tax operations - OBE for services to taxpayers
- Roger Atkinson, assistant director counter-avoidance - OBE for services to taxpayers
- Jane McClelland, administrative officer - MBE for services to taxpayers and voluntary service to cancer awareness
- Satpal Singh Nahl, officer, Bradford group - OBE for services to taxpayers and public administration
- Gerard Cleray, administrative officer personal tax operations - Medallist of the Order of the British Empire for services to taxpayers and voluntary services to Thalidomide Awareness.
A handful of representatives from the accounting, tax and finance profession were also bestowed awards. CIMA CEO Charles Tilley gained an OBE for his services to the economy. Tilley currently serves as the chief executive of CIMA, having joined the professional body in 2001.
Prior to joining CIMA, Tilley spent 14 years working for KPMG where he was made a partner. As well as his CIMA duties, Tilley also chairs the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) professional accountants in business committee. He also serves on the council of Accounting for Sustainability.
Helen Dickinson, another former KPMG partner, was awarded an OBE for services to the retail industry. Dickinson has been Chief Executive of the BRC since January 2013, following a career as Head of Retail at KPMG. In this position, Dickinson led and developed KPMG’s retail practices in the UK.
In the area of financial services, Graham John Beale, the chief executive officer of Nationwide Building Society was given a CBE for services to the sector. BBC financial pundit David Buik was awarded an MBE.
Do you agree with Homer’s damehood? Tell us what you think about her achievements.The professional bodies will let us know in the coming days of more accountants who have achieved New Year gongs. If you know of any accountants recognised on the list, please let us know by commenting below.
About Richard Hattersley
Richard is AccountingWEB's practice correspondent. If you have any comments or suggestions for us get in touch.