Announcements relating to office closures and the opening of the Stratford Regional Centre have been made.
Over 50 offices are earmarked for closure in the 2020/21 year, with more than 30 of these during the second half of that year. Therefore, in order to spread out the closure dates, any redundancy consultations and the 1-2-1 exercises (which the department has held at least 12 months prior to previous closures), and taking into account the expected opening date of the Regional Centres, HMRC has altered the vacation dates for a number of offices.
HMRC plan to open the Stratford Regional Centre in Autumn next year and the latest information for offices in the region is as follows:• Central London (including Bush House, Custom House, Custom House Annexe, Euston Tower, and Canary Wharf. Closed to staff November 2020. 121’s to start 5 November 2019.)
• Watford (Closed to staff Dec 2020. 121’s start 5 November 2019. Croydon agreed as extra migration path).
• Stratford (Closed to staff February 2021. 121’s to start 27 February 2020).
• Southend (Closed to staff Deember 2022. Some roles to move when Stratford opens. 121’s for those colleagues to start 5 November 2019).
• Peterborough (Closed to staff December 2020. 121’s to start 5 November 2019. Nottingham and Croydon agreed as extra migration paths).
• Maidstone (Closed to staff December 2020. 121’s to start 5 November 2019.
• Luton (Closed to staff September 2020. 121’s to start 26 September 2019).
• Ipswich (Specialist site. Currently reviewing plans and looking at location options. Aiming to share outcome before summer).
• Erith (Closed to staff February 2021. 121’s to start 27 February 2020).
• Dover (Specialist site from April 2021).
• Canterbury (Closed to staff February 2020. Migration path Corydon or Maidstone Medvale House).
Members of our North London branch, working in International House in Ealing, have the led the way in fighting the closure of their office by taking five days of strike action so far. This heroic stance has this week been universally saluted by all attendees to PCS annual delegate conference, including general secretary Mark Serwotka.
Despite strong advice from PCS negotiators to the contrary, HMRC has decided to go ahead with a closure announcement in Ealing this week. In the latest briefing, the department has offered staff the opportunity to migrate to Croydon or Canary Wharf in advance of the move to the Stratford Regional Centre. For the vast majority of members, neither of these options gives them any realistic prospect of continuing their career with HMRC. Following further discussions however, the department will be making it clear that the announcement simply reflects the current position, is without prejudice to the talks with the union, and may be subject to change.
We have been in regular dialogue with the Ealing strike committee and will keep members informed.
The union advises all members to ensure they read the comprehensive PCS advice on the 1-2-1 process, and make sure they have a 1-2-1. Members should also read the PCS advice if they have any reasonable adjustments, if car parking might be an issue for them, and if there are any other special factors that might affect their situation. Any member who has any questions or worries should speak to a local PCS rep about these.
Updated, detailed guidance was produced by PCS and agreed by HMRC. This guidance was summarised in Members Briefing 011/19, circulated on March 29, and is available via your Branch Secretary.
Even when we take into account the increase in the size of Stratford, PCS estimates that over 2000 jobs will be lost from offices which will close in the region. We will be releasing a series of special Building our Future Location briefings based on the revised 2021 projections recently published by HMRC and these will breakdown the job cuts by line of business and location.
The Group Executive Committee continues to support any group of members who oppose the closures and will work with all branches to help you formulate plans and hold ballots to join Ealing in the struggle. We reiterate our demand for a moratorium on the closure programme in the face of the UK exiting the European Union to allow for public and Parliamentary scrutiny of management’s plans; including a case by-case re-examination of all current planned closures and a full copy of the business case produced by management.
Although the department continues to publically reiterate the commitment that 90% of staff who were in post in 2015 are expected to migrate to the new regional centre offices or otherwise conclude their career with HMRC, data obtained by PCS indicates much fewer have moved in the offices that have underwent 1-2-1 exercises since the start of the programme. Even more worryingly, some of the more recent 1-2-1 exercises and closures have resulted in even less staff staying with the department. This is unsurprising because the reduced footprint of HMRC and similarly shrinking sizes of other government departments mean there are less options available than ever before for members who do not wish to be made redundant.
HMRC acknowledge that after this announcement there will be members who have questions that they will not be able to answer at present. A number of HMRC business streams have previously made announcements to staff in London, the South East and Eastern England that they are reducing their forecast presence in Stratford. This means that even if they can move to Stratford they will not be able to continue in their current job.
HMRC have told PCS that they accept that by the time these staff have their 1-2-1s they must have clarity regarding the job role(s) that will be offered to them if they are able to move to Stratford.