Want to demand change to the management at HMRC? You can do so here

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38 Degrees is running a campaign to demand better accountability at HMRC. You can sign up here.

The demand is for better independent directors of HMRC. The existing non-execs are noted here, but for the sake of saving you the click the HMRC page says:

HM Revenue & Customs' (HMRC) Non-Executive Directors are senior business figures from outside the department who bring a diverse mix of expertise and skills from across both public and private sector. HMRC looks to its Non-Executive Directors to:

  • bring guidance and advice
  • support and challenge management about the department’s strategic direction
  • provide support in monitoring and reviewing progress

Colin Cobain

Colin is a highly successful Chief Information Officer (CIO) who has won many awards for his work in retail. He was formerly Group CIO of Tesco where he played a key role in transforming their technological capability. Colin is currently a non-executive Chairman of Safe Surgery Systems and Interim CIO at Supervalu, a $45 billion retailer/wholesaler in the US.

Having started his career with the Mars group, he has also been Chief Executive at Incepto, Complementary Channels Director, Systems and Logistics Director, Systems and Business Development Director, Director of Retail Developments and Head of MIS all in the Kingfisher plc group; Colin has also been IT Director at Rumbelows, part of Thorn EMI plc.

picture of Philippa HirdPhilippa Hird

Philippa is an experienced Human Resources professional specialising in effective delivery of complex change. She was until recently Group Human Resources Director of ITV. Prior to ITV, she held Personnel Director roles at Granada plc and Granada Media Group. Her current roles are board member of Polka Theatre in Wimbledon and governor of Wimbledon Chase primary school.

Previously she was a board member of Opportunity Now and of Skillset and Vice President of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

picture of Phil HodkinsonPhil Hodkinson

In early 2008, Phil was appointed as external adviser to the HMRC senior management team and the audit committee. He supported the Department in the wake of the data loss and implementation of the Capability Review and provides valuable consistency for the Board.

He brings with him significant finance experience having previously been Group Finance Director of HBOS plc and Chairman of Insight Investment prior to his retirement in 2007. Phil is also a non-executive Director and audit committee Chair of BT Group plc, non-executive Director and audit committee Chair of Travelex Holdings, non-executive Director of Resolution Ltd, Trustee of Christian Aid, Trustee of Business in the Community and more recently joined the Board of Trustees of BBC Children in Need.

Phil chairs the HMRC Ethics and Responsibilities Committee.

Previously he has been CEO of UK Life Business at Zurich Financial Services, a consulting actuary, Chair of the ABI's Raising Standards accreditation scheme and a member of the DTI operating and financial review working group.

pictur of John SpenceJohn Spence

John’s background is in the banking sector. His career with Lloyds TSB spanned 32 years from 1973 to 2005. Senior appointments included Managing Director of Business Banking, Chief Executive of Lloyds TSB Scotland, and Managing Director of Retail Distribution encompassing UK branch networks, ATMs, telephony and internet banking.

He is involved in a wide range of charities and church organisations as well as a number of business focused organisations (such as Business in the Community). John chairs the HMRC Audit and Risk Committee.

So two were directors of failed banks requiring enormous bail outs. That's enormously encouraging. And note they are all 'senior business figures' - no wonder HMRC is so cosy with the business community.

Each of these directors may well be very personally honourable. But the point is a simple one: they've been chosen for the wrong reasons, represent the wrong interests and clearly haven't held HMRC to account in its relationships with the community they all come from - big business. And that's not good enough, especially as two of the executive directors are also closely associated with their business pasts as well, meaning big business thinking dominates the nine person board of our tax authority.

No wonder things have gone wrong.