7 February 2022

Successfully campaigning to save jobs

Dave blogs about the successful campaign carried out to save Portsmouth HMRC office.

When HMRC made their Building Our Future (BOF) announcement in November 2015, Portsmouth faced losing its two tax offices, leaving PCS members looking at unlikely moves to Croydon or redundancy.

Wingfield House, in the city centre, was under immediate threat, due to close in 2017, but the second, bigger site at Lynx House, was granted “transitional site” status until 2026, giving us time to mount a campaign to secure HMRC jobs in the city. The members backed us in the campaign and that was vital to us as union reps.

Our branch ran a community and political campaign. We petitioned the public, members wrote to their MPs and PCS reps met both local MPs: Stephen Morgan (Labour) in Portsmouth South and Penny Mordaunt (Conservative) in Portsmouth North. We also got backing from Portsmouth City Council for the campaign.

We carried out spending surveys to show what the loss of spending power would mean to the local economy. We made waves and HMRC were embarrassed by local MPs visiting both offices after being lobbied by branch reps. It showed that PCS members were prepared to fight for their jobs in their local community.

We had ups and downs along the way. The closure of Wingfield House was postponed by 18 months and 200 new jobs were created as a result, but it was closed in 2018.

With HMRC’s office closure plans, the whole of the south coast would be left without an operational HMRC presence. That would risk compliance yields and the tax system in the south.

My branch successfully took a motion to group conference to set up a south coast hub. That enabled us to form a south coast committee with branches from Exeter all the way up to Maidstone and Dover. The “Save our South Coast” campaign was born. We collectively shared and pooled our resources and held drop in events at parliament and around the south.

It was a tricky fight, with most offices falling by the wayside, but we always felt we had a great chance of success in Portsmouth.

In January 2022 HMRC finally announced that Portsmouth would become the 14th Regional Centre in the UK. It was a huge U-turn by HMRC and we’re in no doubt that this was due in large part to PCS action.

My PCS branch is delighted with the result and it’s a victory for PCS in the location.

If you fight you might win, but if you don’t, you always lose.