HMRC chief executive Lin Homer has been awarded a Damehood in the New Year’s honours list for her services to public finance, despite coming under scrutiny for her role at the tax authority.
Homer has been CEO of the government department since 2012, having previously served as permanent secretary at the Department for Transport.
In 2015, Homer celebrated the tenth anniversary of HMRC, but in February she went before the Treasury Select Committee alongside HSBC chairman Douglas Flint over the Swiss tax evasion scandal.
Homer is also known for her role as the head of the now-defunct UK Border Agency. Members of Parliament slammed Homer for her time at the immigration department, stating that she had been responsible for a ‘‘catastrophic leadership failure” as hundreds of foreign prisoners were granted permission to live in the UK during her tenure.
The announcement has been met with some criticism, with Nigel Mills, a Conservative member of the Public Accounts Committee telling the Daily Telegraph that Homer shouldn’t be recognised when HMRC are failing to deliver on customer service.
“There are serious questions about how HMRC is performing, it is failing to answer enough calls and collect enough money from large businesses and tax avoiders.
“You would think you would want that sorting out before you gave someone a gong. I don’t understand why we have to have every well paid civil servant in every department getting a knighthood or damehood.
The HMRC boss also had to deal with condemnation over a £20,000 bonus that she received in late 2014. In the same year, Homer was forced to apologise to the Treasury Select Committee after HMRC falsely claimed that they had exceeded targets by £1.9bn.
A spokesperson for HMRC defended Homer’s Damehood, stating that since she joined HMRC in 2012, she had been responsible for delivering “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,” said the spokesperson.
A number of other financial professionals were recognised in the Queen’s New Year Honours List. Charles Tilly, CEO of CIMA, was awarded an OBE for his services to the economy.
Tilley spent 14 years at KMPG, and still works closely with the UK Institute for Government as it looks to reform financial leadership.
“This is not something I expected – but it is hugely welcome,” explained Tilley. “As hard as I have worked over the past 14 years, the victories I have been proud of – most notably the increasing recognition of the value of management accounting, the growth of integrated reporting and the huge success of CIMA’s joint venture – have all been achieved with the help of colleagues in CIMA together with our members and students, and those we work with across the world.”
Two CFO’s were recognised for their efforts over the past 12 months. Lorraine Bewes, chief financial officer of the Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust was made an OBE for her 25 years of service to NHS financial management.
Christopher Hutton, CFO of City of London Academies and Facilitator, Academy Finance Directors’ Forum, was handed an MBE for his services to Education. Nationwide CEO Graham Beale also received an OBE for his services to the sector.
A number of civil servants were handed honours by the Queen, particularly NHS employees. Jane Tomkinson, chief executive, Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, was also awarded an OBE for her services to NHS financial management. The number of civil servants being recommended for New Year’s honours has almost doubled over the past two years, despite Westminster assuring that no one would be awarded for just doing their day job.
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