Tax office staff fear for jobs

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Fears have been raised that a trial closure of 13 tax offices could lead to Lancaster’s HMRC office shutting down.

HM Revenue and Customs has said, from June to September, 13 enquiry centres in the north east of England will close and has launched a consultation on the future of the network as a whole, which employs more than 1,300 workers.

But staff have already been told it is “highly likely” all 281 face-to-face enquiry centres will close.

Local PCS representative Lesley Vincent, speaking out against the proposals, said: “Over the last few years there has been a gradual but obvious withdrawal of the face-to-face service to local communities.

“This started with a reduction in outreach work, then the removal of back office support and expertise as local tax offices shed staff, followed by the reduction in opening hours and finally the re-location of the Enquiry Centres from tax offices to councils, job centres, libraries and community centres.

“This has made it increasingly difficult for customers who would like to use our service to find us on an open day.

“Two years after my own office in Lancaster re-located to the local council customer service office, we still have customers saying they didn’t know we were there and only found us from word of mouth or from visiting the council on another matter.”

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) said closing all 281 face-to-face enquiry centres in the country would cut off vital personal support for pensioners and other vulnerable taxpayers.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Closing all face to face tax offices would break the link between people in communities and an essential public service they rely on. If, as we fear, flawed research has been used to justify these closure plans then ministers must put an immediate stop to them.”

Customers who want to use a face to face service can still access this at the Customer Service Centre, Lancaster Town Hall, Dalton Square, Lancaster, Monday to Thursday 9am to 4pm.

Anyone wanting to get involved in the campaign against this proposal can email their MP using the link http://action.pcs.org.uk/page/speakout/stop-the-closure-of-hmrc-enquiry-centres and feed into HMRC’s consultation via email at consultation.feedback@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk or by post to: Andrew Logan, FSD NES Comms Team, HM Revenue & Customs, Room 3/56, 100 Parliament Street, London, SW1A 2BQ.