On 12 November, 2015 HMRC announced plans to close nearly every office (approximately 170) in the HMRC estate and to replace them with 13 ‘regional centres’ and 4 ‘specialist sites’,(now 5) mostly based in major UK cities. These plans were titled Building our future and if implemented in full, will involve vast areas of the UK being left with no local HMRC office.
In the south of England, under the current plans the only locations in which HMRC intends to retain a presence are Worthing and Dover, with both of these designated as specialist sites. No other presence is planned, leaving a large swathe of land with no HMRC presence and a yawning gap between the regional centres of Croydon and Bristol. PCS has made it clear to HMRC that this is a risky situation which invites exploitation and increases the likelihood of non-compliance. Most staff in the areas affected in the south of England will be well outside of reasonable daily travel of any of the new regional offices proposed by the HMRC location plans. This will inevitably lead to redundancies and further job losses, in a key government department that is already struggling to cope.
Led by Portsdown Vectis branch, the south cCoast R&C branches representing the HMRC members from Cornwall to Kent have met on 3 occasions since October 2017 and discussed ways to make a case to propose changes to the HMRC BOF location plans, but also about how best to ask local constituency MPs to support them. Members' meetings have been held in the local branch offices, member and public leaflets are being distributed and a postcard campaign to raise awareness of the HMRC plans has commenced with constituency MPs. In addition, a PCS parliamentary event took place on 14 March, 2018, giving an opportunity for MPs to speak to the staff in the HMRC offices from within their own constituencies to find out the real picture of what is going on and to offer support to our members.