In response to a damning report which says HMRC has yet to demonstrate it has a realistic plan for its proposed wholesale restructure, PCS calls on the government to rethink its approach to tax collection, stop office closure plans and properly resource HMRC.
The report by the influential parliamentary public accounts committee published today is highly critical of HMRC’s plans to reduce its 170 offices nationwide to 13 large regional hubs in city centres at the cost of thousands of jobs.
The committee of MPs raised concerns about negative costs to the wider economy and the impact on local employment. They said it was “not clear how the local impact of office closures is being factored into relocation decisions.” They cite the example of Cumbernauld near Glasgow where HMRC employs about 1,500 people, who will be expected to move to the regional centre in Glasgow. They say that closure of the Cumbernauld office will have a “serious impact on the town, community and local businesses” and “take no account of the already overcrowded transport into Glasgow.”
They said that such concerns would be reflected across many other towns and communities facing office closures and job losses.
The MPs also say:
- They do not believe that the plan will save as much money as HMRC has predicted
- They do not believe that the regional hubs need to be based in ‘expensive cities’ across the UK
- They have concerns that any HMRC savings could end up shunting costs to other parts of the public sector, particularly if jobs are lost
- HMRC’s plan carries a high risk of disruption to its core business of collecting tax and serving customers.
In response to the report PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “This report confirms what we have been saying since these plans were announced 18 months ago that closing this many offices poses a significant threat to the operation of HMRC, its service to the public and the working lives of staff.
“Cutting thousands of HMRC staff in recent years has hit the services it provides to the public, yet the department and this Tory government are ploughing ahead with poorly thought through plans that would mean thousands more job cuts.”