Former HMRC chief Lin Homer lines up unpaid council role

ACOBA approves return to Suffolk County Council for review of councillor remuneration

By Jim Dunton

12 Jan 2017

Lin Homer is to return to the local authority where she was once chief executive to work for free on a review of councillor remuneration, it has emerged.

Just-published papers from the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments reveal that the former HM Revenue & Customs chief executive and permanent secretary sought clearance to take on the role at Suffolk County Council late last year. Dame Lin was chief executive at the authority from 1998 to 2002.

Under anti-corruption rules designed to provide transparency on the post-Whitehall work taken on by senior civil servants and government ministers, approval must be granted by ACOBA for new jobs begun within two years of leaving the civil service. Homer left HMRC in April last year and was succeeded by Jon Thompson.

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The statement announcing her departure said she intended to take a break over the summer and was "not currently actively seeking her next role”. 

Her HMRC predecessor, Dave Hartnett, came under fire for taking on an advisory role with tax consultancy Deloitte after leaving office. When she announced her departure, Homer told staff she would be “fully sensitive to the responsibility and care officials should take when considering the appropriateness of potential roles and organisations".

A letter from ACOBA to HMRC’s HR director said Homer’s request had been to undertake an unpaid position with Suffolk County Council on a part-time basis.

It said that she had no official dealings with the council while she was in office at HMRC, and that while she had been involved in the development of departmental tax policy, no propriety concerns were raised.

The letter, signed by committee secretariat Catriona Marshall, noted that HMRC had raised no objection to Homer’s proposed new role but gave the standard warning that she should not draw on any privileged information that had come from her time in the civil service.  

It added: “For two years from her last day in service, she should not become personally involved in lobbying the UK government on behalf of Suffolk County Council”.

ACOBA’s publication of its letter suggests Homer's appointment has been confirmed – however, Suffolk has yet to formally announce it.

Homer’s first post-HMRC role was revealed in July last year, when ACOBA approved her request to take up an unpaid role on the governing body of the University of Birmingham.

In 2013, then-Public Accounts Committee chair Margaret Hodge accused Homer’s predecessor of having “no shame” for accepting a one-day-a-week role with Deloitte that saw him advise foreign governments on tax issues 10 months after leaving Whitehall. ACOBA had approved the appointment, with six caveats.

Hartnett had previously been criticised by PAC for agreeing "sweetheart deals" with major corporations, including one with US bank Goldman Sachs that was described as “not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue” by one judge.

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