'A catastrophic leadership failure': MPs launch scathing attack against ex-UKBA chief Lin Homer

 

An influential group of MPs launched a scathing attack against 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 & Customs after her performance during the five years she spent at the top of the UK Border Agency (UKBA).

But Ms Homer said it was "unfair" to blame her for matters that occurred after she left the Agency.

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 through 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 at the beginning of the period 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 for that organisation."

The 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 total 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 and the checks being carried out to try and trace applicants in the controlled archives.

Its report said Ms Homer "continues to try and evade responsibility for her failings" and calls for a stronger role for Parliament when civil servants are being scrutinised for senior positions.

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 became director general for the Immigration and Nationality Directorate in August 2005, which was reformed as the Border and Immigration Agency in 2008. She was the UKBA's first chief executive.

She was appointed head of HMRC, which is tasked with collecting the country's tax revenues, in January last year.

She has already written to the committee in response to their allegations, as much of the difficulties described in its report came some 18 months after her departure.

She said: "It is therefore wholly inaccurate and unfair to seek to ascribe responsibility to me for matters of concern that occurred long after I left the Agency."

The HMRC said under Ms Homer's leadership, the department is likely to beat targets by more than £1 billion and has improved the rate of answered calls from 66% to 90%.

Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke said: "Under Lin Homer's leadership, HMRC has built on the good work already going on in the department, becoming increasingly effective at tackling evasion and avoidance, improving its customer service and delivering substantial efficiencies. She is a highly effective chief executive and the right person to lead HMRC."

The number of UKBA backlog cases fell by 1% quarter-on-quarter, the committee said, despite 96,000 cases closed.

The MPs said they found UKBA's progress in dealing with the backlogs is "far too slow".

Committee chair Keith Vaz MP said: "No sooner is one backlog closed, than four more are discovered. At this rate it will take 24 years to clear the backlog which still stands at the size of the population of Iceland."

The committee recommends that senior UKBA staff are not paid bonuses until there is evidence that the backlog is being "substantially" reduced and new backlogs are not emerging.

However, the MPs welcomed the formation of a performance and compliance unit within the UKBA.

It said: "We expect this to mark the beginning of a move towards greater transparency on behalf of the Agency."

Immigration Minister Mark Harper said: "We have always been clear that the UK Border Agency was a troubled organisation with a poor record of delivery.

"Turning it around will take time but I am determined to provide the public with an immigration system they can have confidence in."

Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "Taxpayers are sick to death of senior civil servants presiding over failure only to move on without being held to account for their past actions.

"At worst Whitehall rewards the incompetent with payoffs or promotions, at best it just shuffles them sideways. From the NHS to the UKBA, we have seen gross failings and incredible wastes of taxpayers' money treated with indifference.

"This culture of apathy to performance and value can be tolerated no longer - senior civil servants must be accountable for their actions."

PA

News
Shoppers at Selfridges department store in central London
news

News
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleFormer Newsnight presenter is being touted for a brand new role
News
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
people
Voices
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012
voicesAnd nobody from Ukip said babies born to migrants should be classed as migrants, says Nigel Farage
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
art
News
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
people
Arts and Entertainment
Stella Gibson is getting closer to catching her killer
tvReview: It's gripping edge-of-the-seat drama, so a curveball can be forgiven at such a late stage
News
Brazilian football legend Pele pictured in 2011
peopleFans had feared the worst when it was announced the Brazil legand was in a 'special care' unit
News
i100(More than you think)
Sport
Brendan Rodgers seems more stressed than ever before as Liverpool manager
FOOTBALLI like Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
News
The Magna Carta
archaeologyContemporary account of historic signing discovered
News
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
Sport
Benjamin Stambouli celebrates his goal for Tottenham last night
FOOTBALL
Life and Style
Dishing it out: the head chef in ‘Ratatouille’
food + drinkShould UK restaurants follow suit?
News
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Service Receptionist / Warranty Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion the Largest Independent Motor...

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - OOP, Javascript, HTML, CSS, SQL

£39000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - OOP, Javascript, HTML,...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial / Residential Property - Surrey

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: SURREY MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Programme - Online Location Services Business

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game