Reposted from PCS
Ian Lavery MP, an active member of our parliamentary group, had secured yesterday’s debate over the planned closure of all 281 of HMRC’s enquiry centres.
He opened the debate by warning: “The taxpayers most likely to be prevented from accessing the proposed new service as a result of the cost are the unemployed, those on low incomes such as migrant workers and pensioners, and child benefit and child tax credit claimants. Such taxpayers rely heavily on the free service currently provided by HMRC staff at enquiry centres.”
Jobs under threat
He and other MPs also raised concerns about the possibility of 1,300 staff having their jobs threatened and the lack of support they have been given by their employer since the decision was made to close their offices last month.
MPs are skeptical over the move to a service where people would be vetted over the telephone over whether they required a face-to-face appointment. Our parliamentary group chair John McDonnell MP warned that it would put even more pressure on call centres when: “HMRC is significantly failing its existing call centre targets already.”
On the morning of the debate our representatives had met with Treasury minister David Gauke to raise our concerns about the closures and the impact they will have on jobs and the ability the public has to access services.
Despite the concerns raised by us and by MPs, the minister has responded that he believes the new services will allow better support to customers. We remain unconvinced and believe it would be better for staff and the public for the enquiry centres to remain open.