Whitehall mandarin made a Dame in the 2016 New Year’s Honours list despite coming under fire for mishandling of tax-dodgers is standing down
The head of HM Revenue and Customs quit the Civil Service with a £2.2million pension pot (one of the biggest in the Civil Service, swelled by an additional £70,000 to £75,000 last year) and a promise not to take a job in the private sector which will embarrass ministers.
Dame Lin Homer, who has run HMRC since 2012, will leave in April after MPs criticised a series of failings and “abysmal” levels of customer service for members of the public.
Dame Lin was also under fire for securing only one prosecution from a list of 6,800 UK-related secret Swiss bank accounts provided in 2010 by French authorities. In her previous job running the UK Border Agency, Dame Lin was censured by MPs for her “catastrophic leadership failure”.
Homer epitomised all that is wrong with the UK Civil Service. Unaccountable Civil Service mandarins enjoying self-congratulatory praise whilst abusing the protection of the State, covering up massive cock-ups costing the UK taxpayer many billions. A summary of her worst efforts follows.
Additionally a number of unsavoury incidents (some involving Cameron’s sidekick, Chief Civil Servant, Sir Jeremy Heywood) occurred in the course of the Scottish Independence Campaign giving urgent notice that the Scottish parliament must have authority over Civil Servants working in Scotland. The Smith Commission failed to address the issue and it needs to be raised with Westminster soon.
A Scottish, civil service, with no ties to Westminster, clear of the tentacles of “Common Purpose” would better serve Scotland.
The marked increasing incidence of recurring catastrophic leadership disasters in the, “UK Civil Service” is of concern. Very many inadequate civil servants are/have been promoted well beyond their abilities, through their shadowy, “Common Purpose” network contacts. Hence the increasing number of financial, transport, media, immigration and other disasters which have and continue to blight the UK. The UK civil service, put in place by the public, charged with the mission always to serve their needs is not fit for purpose.
March 26 2013; Who are her backers? The Unstoppable Rise of Lin Homer, (Common Purpose Member)
Born in Norfolk, Lin Homer studied law at University College London, before working at Reading Council for two years then Hertfordshire Council, where over a period of 15 years, she rose to the position of Director of Corporate Services. Now a member of “Common Purpose” This provided the springboard for her first major town hall job, in 1998, as chief executive of Suffolk Council.
4 April 2005; Judge upholds vote-rigging claims – Lin Homer Threw rule book out the window,
Homer was parachuted into the same post at Birmingham City Council, on a jaw-dropping £174,000-year.
In 2005 she was accused of throwing ‘the rule book out of the window’ in a major postal votes scandal in Birmingham that ended up before the courts.
Election judge Richard Mawrey said fraud in the city ‘would have disgraced a banana republic’.
He described Mrs Homer’s decision to allow postal ballot papers to be transported to the count in shopping bags as ‘the direst folly’.
25 March 2013; Jerry Hayes – Solicitor and ex Tory MP – Lin Homer, eat my shorts. Allah UKBA!
What is even more fascinating is how LIn Homer has soared effortlessly to the Whitehall stratosphere.
I first came across her in 2005 and found her perfectly agreeable. She was the Chief Executive of Birmingham Council and I was parachuted in to represent two Labour councillors accused of electoral fraud.
It was the first electoral commission in one hundred years. It was as a result of a petition moved by the splendid John Hemming, now a Lib Dem MP.
It was an eye opener exposing the corruption of the postal ballot system which according to the Commissioner, Richard Maurey QC “would have disgraced a banana republic”.
Let me set the scene:
“My chaps were found in a warehouse in the dead of night in front of a table groaning with postal ballot forms, pens and tipex. As we say in the trade this caused one or two evidential problems. Worse, heads of Asian families were hoovering up votes within their households. And (not connected with my clients) there were accusations that postmen laden with postal ballots had been threatened with having their throats cut if they didn’t hand them over.
It didn’t say a lot about British democracy. It spoke volumes.
But most shocking of all was the utter chaos of the count. The Commissioner remarked that the transportation of voting papers via carrier bags was the “direst folly”.
And after the Lib Dems had raised an almighty stink it was discovered that Tesco bags of uncounted votes were discovered in council offices.
The Commissioner commented that Lin Homer as Chief returning Officer had “thrown away the electoral rule book”.
18 Nov 2013; United Kingdom Border Agency savaged by MPs
But later that year she was chosen by the Home Office to run what was then called the Immigration and Nationality Directorate – this time on £200,000, plus bonuses
Already in chaos, it was on her watch in 2006 that we learned of the mistaken release of 1,000 foreign criminals.
It later emerged some 450,000 asylum cases had not been dealt with but left in boxes at the Home Office.
Appearing before the Home Affairs committee Homer, now head of the newly formed UKBA gave an undertaking to fix things.
But despite promises from former chief executive Lin Homer and her successors as head of the UKBA since the UKBA was founded in 2008, nothing was being done to try to find asylum seekers whose claims had been rejected and to remove them from the country.
The UKBA had supplied wrong and misleading statistics to the Home Affairs Committee since it was formed in 2008.
Senior UK staff ‘misled’ the Committee; The UKBA’s senior staff misled the Committee on so many occasions that it was clear that senior staff were either deliberately misleading the Committee or thoroughly incompetent.
Files were so poorly compiled and were missing so much information that it was impossible to carry out security checks on applicants for asylum.
Progress in dealing with historic cases had been slow and poorly performed. The Committee expressed doubt that checks on archives of historic cases to try to determine whether the applicants were still in the country were carried out properly.
The UKBA was not working properly with the police to find and detain foreign nationals who are awaiting prosecution for criminal offences.
The Committee was especially scathing in its criticism of Lin Homer. It accused her of trying to ‘evade responsibility for her failings’.
Ms Homer told the committee in January that she had always given the committee all the figures that had been requested as soon as she had them. The committee refutes this.
The new UKBA was meant to clear up the mess, and Mrs Homer became its first chief executive, on an astonishing £208,000 a year.
But among a fresh run of scandals was the revelation that nearly 400 of the 1,000 foreign prisoners were told they could stay in Britain and dozens remained untraced.
She was quizzed over more than 100,000 items of mail left unopened as staff struggled to deal with 147,000 immigration case files, some dating back to the Nineties, parked in a ‘controlled archive’. It later emerged that in 40,000 cases, individuals could still be in the country and were potentially untraceable.
Ms Homer apologised that the cases had not been checked against up to 19 databases, including the Police National Computer and anti-terrorist watchlist, and said she regretted she may have ‘inadvertently misled’ the committee over the size of the backlog and whether security checks had been carried out.
Mr Vaz accepted her apology – but said if it happened again it would be reported to Parliament as a ‘contempt of the House’.
Tomorrow’s report is expected to express MPs’ fury that Ms Homer, 56, does not appear to accept she failed during her time as head of the UKBA – and cast doubt on her ability to carry out her duties at HMRC.
She was paid almost £1 million in salary and bonuses during her time at the beleaguered agency.
The report is expected to conclude Parliament should be given a stronger role in appointing top civil servants – a view likely to be shared by No 10, where senior figures have expressed frustration at the way Whitehall tries to block key reforms and rejects interference over its appointments.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21921926 (includes video report)
10 Oct 2012; Rewarding Failure – permanent secretary of the UK Transport Department Lin Homer lasts barely a year.
Millionaire mandarin Lin Homer, Permanent Secretary at the DfT throughout 2011 when details of the new rail franchise business model were being thrashed out was today named by Sir Richard Branson as one of a handful of officials at the department whom his Virgin Rail team met during 2011 to voice concerns over the bid process.
Those concerns were ignored, said the rail boss whose warnings proved correct last week when the Government U-turned on its decision to award the lucrative franchise to his rival First Group due to an alleged catastrophic business model error.
The mistake is estimated to cost taxpayers £100million and the DfT has now been labelled “not fit for purpose”.
Ms Homer’s meteoric rise through the civil service — she received another promotion last January — prompted one MP last night to question whether there was an unchecked “reward for failure” culture at the heart of Whitehall.
25 March 2013; Appointment of HMRC head Lin Homer raises ‘serious concerns’
The Commons’ Home Affairs committee said in a report published today, it was “astounded” at Homer’s appointment to chief executive and permanent secretary at HMRC at “what is a challenging time for that organisation”.
It added that the appointment raises “serious concerns about the accountability of the most senior civil servants to Parliament”.
6 November 2013; Public being charge extortionate telephone premium rates in calls to HMRC
Homer admitted to MP’s that tax payers are charged premium call rates upon telephone enquiries made direct to HMRC and that there was an inordinate time taken to answer enquiries. But she was dealing with the matter.
Homer decided that HMRC will close all 281 of their Enquiry Centres before the end of 2014. Replacing the service with an updated, “super dooper” call centre system, passing the buck to the Citizens Advice Bureau and other voluntary organisations to provide tax advice to the public.
Watch Lin Homer (Chief Executive & Permanent Secretary) and Ruth Owen (Director General Personal TAX HMRC) squirm when Ms Hodge has a go at them about 0845 numbers! Priceless!!!
5 November 2012; Homer admits Government powerless to force multinationals to declare profits
Homer briefed MPs that over half of Britain’s biggest 770 firms funnel profits overseas and the Government is unable at the present time to prevent these big international corporations from paying almost no tax on their profits in this country.
She offered that they achieve this by declaring their profits in foreign countries with tiny tax rates – even if they made those profits in this country.
30 July 2013; £135 million collected from leaked Swiss list
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has recovered £135 million in lost tax from individuals named on a leaked list of HSBC’s private banking operation in Switzerland.
This is considerably less than the amount pulled in by the Spanish and French tax authorities, who have recouped £220 million and £188 million respectively.
Speaking at a hearing of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), HMRC chief executive Lin Homer said that 130,000 names were on the so-called Falciani list – named after the former employee of the bank who handed over the details.
Of the 130,000, HMRC had identified 6,800 UK-based entities at some 5,000 UK addresses.
Ms Homer said however that the poor quality of the data meant that just 3,400 taxpayers have been contacted so far – resulting in a yield of just £135m. She said however that HMRC’s efforts “were not yet finished.”
Asked about the Lagarde list – a subset of the larger HSBC database – Ms Homer said that “major progress” had been made in tackling 15 live cases. Of these, two have been settled as civil cases, four remain open, five have settled within the Swiss disclosure agreement and four are still being negotiated.
HMRC’s actions over the Liberty tax avoidance scheme were also considered by the PAC, with Ms Homer confirming that £400 million of tax was at stake.
According to HMRC data, of the approximately 2,000 users of the scheme, the tax authority had failed to serve Section 9 notices in 30 cases, which HMRC’s internal review suggested had put ‘well below’ £10m of tax at risk.
HMRC were also censured over errors which saw the department overstate the amount of extra revenue collected by £1.9bn compared to targets. Ms Homer apologised for the mistake, which she said was down to an incorrect calculation of the baseline from which later calculations were taken.
She is under pressure from the, “Commons Public Accounts Committee”, who asked about, “sweetheart” deals she authorised, giving immunity to around 6,000 British names linked to HSBC bank accounts in Geneva.
At least 500 of these wealthy tax dodgers are being or have been investigated but it is expected they will be offered immunity in exchange for payment of a penalty AND their tax bills AND allowed to keep their identities hidden AND be protected from prosecution”?
11 February 2015; MPs debate HSBC scandal: Politics Live blog
MPs from the Commons public accounts committee have launched a withering attack on HM Revenue and Customs over its response to information it received about clients of HSBC’s Swiss division dodging tax.
Margaret Hodge, the Labour MP who chairs the committee, said accused Lin Homer, the HMRC chief executive, of a “pathetic” response.
Hodge also said HMRC was sending out a “really rotten message” to people considering evading tax because its action was so weak.
She said HMRC was sending out the message that “it’s a risk worth taking – the worst that can happen to you if HMRC can be bothered to catch up with you is that you may have to pay, you won’t have a prosecution, you won’t have any shame, you won’t be an example to anybody else, you’ll get away with it”.
She went on: That’s a terrible message to get out to British taxpayers, it’s a really rotten message.
http://www.theguardian.com/politics/blog/live/2015/feb/11/cameron-and-miliband-at-pmqs-politics-live-blog (Video coverage of the debates) <a href=”https://caltonjock.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/lin-homer.