Jim Harra, interim permanent secretary and chief executive at HM Revenue and Customs, has been appointed to the role permanently, the tax authority has announced.
Today’s announcement comes just four weeks after Harra was brought in to lead the department on an interim basis, when his predecessor Sir Jon Thompson left to lead the Financial Reporting Council.
Harra, who has been HMRC’s deputy perm sec since January 2018, has made several public appearances since taking over from Thompson on 1 October. Giving evidence to parliament’s Treasury Select Committee last week, he revealed plans to overhaul the pay system at the department, which he said was in “crisis”.
He told MPs that he would seek pay rises following years of wage stagnation amounting to real-term cuts for many staff, along with what he called the “inbuilt unfairness” that meant civil servants doing the same job in the same office could be paid different amounts.
“The only way we can fix... the structural problems we have in our pay system is to implement pay reform and we are committed to that,” he said.
Harra also said that under his watch HMRC would be stepping up its efforts to crack down on tax-avoidance schemes, amid a growing row over the tax authority’s handling of the loan charge scandal.
Harra has worked at HMRC and its predecessor organisation the Inland Revenue since 1984, where he began his civil service career as a tax inspector. He became director general for business tax in 2012.
Harra is also HMRC’s LGBT+ champion.
Announcing the permanent appointment, cabinet secretary Sir Mark Sedwill said Harra would proide “strong leadership to one of the biggest departments in the civil service".
“His appointment reflects not only the huge contribution to public service he has made to date, but also the wealth of departmental knowledge he will bring to the role."
Harra said he was “thrilled” to take on the role. “I have a deep respect for colleagues within this department and am proud that they are recognised as among the best in government.”