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HMRC confirms office closures

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14th Jan 2010
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HMRC has confirmed plans to stop all business activity at 130 offices earmarked for closure.

Statistics from the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) suggest that the closures would see up to 1,700 staff out of work.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka commented: “Access to tax advice in communities across the UK will be damaged by the confirmation of these closures, which will hit businesses and the public, as well as taking quality jobs out of local communities during a recession.

“Closing offices and slashing jobs makes no economic sense and will do nothing to help the recovery. Rather than cuts the government should be investing to recoup the lost billions in tax,” he added.

A spokesperson for HMRC told AccountingWEB.co.uk: “HMRC’s change programme to make sure that the department has the right number of people, with the right skills, in the right places, began in November 2006 and the decisions announced were made after an exhaustive regional review which ended in December 2008. By bringing staff together in larger teams and closing smaller offices HMRC will be able to deliver a better service to customers while delivering better value for money.”

The PCS argued that the cuts could undermine HMRC’s ability to chase up some £130bn of uncollected, evaded and avoided tax – money which could go towards closing the public deficit.

HMRC refuted this claim: “The tax gap figures given are wrong. We have made significant progress in key areas such as offshore evasion and the use of offshore havens to evade and avoid UK taxes. Our anti-avoidance work has protected the UK from losses of around £12bn since 2004. During 2009/10 we aim to reduce tax losses by a further £2.4bn. This target will not be affected by these announcements.”

The PCS has published a full list of the confirmed office closures and estimated staff losses - click here to view it in full.

Replies (4)

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By Trevor Scott
15th Jan 2010 11:01

No overall gain

With closure of country offices we’ll be in the position of dealing with more people without country experience - who don’t know the difference between a cow and a bullock, don’t understand what “arable” is or understand what a “capital intensive business” is or means, don’t know the difference between wheat and barley straw, how to value the “old grey mare” (the “wife”, a joke, but I have come across this on a stock schedule), and we’ll be on to more “baby cows” instead of calves, questions such as what does a wayleave look like and what do you feed them, never mind the “why do you live on the farm, why not sell the farmhouse and live a few miles away where it is cheaper and nearer the shops”.

Those people of a mature generation, and I’m not just talking OAP’s, who live in the country and are only used to doing things on a personal level will get into some serious difficulties without a local Revenue office. Without that personal facility I suspect, like many people alienated from the internet etc, they will recede into their own private community. And all this from a labour government who claims to care about the community.     

To discuss the reasons given for closures is, I think, foolish. Purely excuses to justify cost cutting that itself arose out of an ill judged and badly planned scheme to merge tax authorities. As far as I can see, we have all lost.   

 

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By John Marshall
15th Jan 2010 12:51

No overall gain

Trevor,

            At the risk of making a fool of myself, and perhaps showing-off my in-depth knowledge of all things agriculture, I presume the "old grey mare" is the "grey Fergie" tractor??

 

Ah, those were the days...

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By Trevor Scott
15th Jan 2010 19:00

No, ahem,

... "old grey mare" is the old term for a farmer's wife. If I remember correctly she was listed at £10 or £20 for three years before I picked up the job.

Another frequent funny mistake was a product description of code "USF999" on Farmway invoices. Often analysed as Veterinary & Medicine or Fertiliser, actually it was cases of Whisky. 

But jokes aside, unless HMRC maintain a presence in the community they serve, they will loose much knowledge/people skills; this is irrespective of whether local business consists of farming, forestry etc.  

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By mikewhit
17th Jan 2010 12:37

HMRC centralisation

Why not save all this faffing about and have just ONE BIG office, in London of course ...

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