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Lin Homer lambasted for UKBA failure

MPs have launched a severe attack against Lin Homer’s “catastrophic leadership failure” at the UK Border Agency (UKBA).

Homer was promoted to chief executive of the HMRC last January – a move MPs on the Home Affairs select committee labelled “astounding”.

The committee has warned that it will take 24 years to clear the backlog of asylum and immigration cases at the UKBA, in a report seen as one of the most scathing ever on a serving civil servant.

Current UKBA chief executive Rob Whiteman has also been criticised, and the UKBA “repeatedly supplied parliament with incorrect information” about the size of the backlog of cases.

The committee has called for a stronger role for Parliament when civil servants are being scrutinised for senior positions, and recommends that senior UKBA staff are not paid bonuses until there is evidence that the backlog is being “substantially” reduced.

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 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.”

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.”

Homer wrote to the committee, pointing out the report focused on the UKBA after she had left. 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.”

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.”

(Library image: PA)

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Dick Wolff   25/03/2013 at 16:00

And every one of those backlog 'cases' that will take 24 years to 'clear up' is a personal story of heartbreak and forced destitution.

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