Year-End & Cash Flow

HMRC plans to cut 137 local offices as fears mount over prospective job losses

Rebecca Smith | 12 November 2015 | 8 years ago

HMRC currently has 170 offices,  along with 17 call centres
HMRC currently has 170 offices, along with 17 call centres
The taxman is to close 137 local offices and replace them with 13 regional centres by 2027, as part of a major restructuring in a bid to shed millions from its budget. The newcentres will be open in the next five years.

The announcementhas raised concerns over numerous towns and cities being left without a tax office, as well as the prospect of redundancy for many employees.

The organisation currently has 170 offices, along with 17 call centres. The last of HMRC’s 281 walk-in help centres was shut last year, closing off face-to-face assistance to 2.5m people a year, adding further pressure on its already struggling telephone services.

The new centres will be in Newcastle, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Nottingham, Birmingham, Cardiff, Belfast, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Bristol, Stratford and Croydon.

Four specialist offices will operate at Telford, Worthing, Dover and Gartcosh.

 

Lin Homer, HMRC’s chief executive, said: “HMRC has too many expensive, isolated and outdated offices. This makes it difficult for us to collaborate, modernise our ways of working, and make the changes we need to transform our service to customers and clamp down further on the minority who try to cheat the system.”

HMRC hopes the plan will save 100m by 2025, by bringing staff together “in more modern and cost-effective buildings in areas with lower rents”.

While the taxman said the majority of its staff would be working in regional centres in ten years’ time, the PCS union warned that further job losses would be “absolutely devastating”.

 

The announcement comes following MPs raising concerns that HMRC was struggling when it came to customer service, with 12m calls going unanswered in the first half of 2015. The taxman said it had hired 3, 000 more staff to help man the phones as a result of missing customer service targets.

In March 2014, the average wait time for a call to be answered was two minutes and 44 seconds and in a year that had risen to 14 minutes 22 seconds.

The Public Accounts Committee warned that millions could be filling in their tax returns incorrectly due to the failure of HMRC staff to pick up the phones.

HMRC had already cut staff numbers by nearly half to get down to 56, 000 in the ten years since it replaced the Inland Revenue and saidit will minimise redundancies” wherever possible.

Homer had sent a memo to her staff in the summer, warning that because George Osborne is working through Whitehall to cut as much as 40 per cent from day-to-day departmental spending, the body would have to find 80m worth of savings this year, on top of planned reforms.

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