In a controversial move, HMRC is to close 137 local offices and replace them with 13 larger regional centres in a bid to save £100m by 2025.
Lin Homer, HMRC’s chief executive, explained: “HMRC has too many expensive, isolated and outdated offices.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. The new regional centres will bring our staff together in more modern and cost-effective buildings in areas with lower rents.”
But the move has been criticised in some quarters, with the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) saying that 11,000 full-time equivalent staff posts had been cut from HMRC since 2010 and any further cuts would be “absolutely devastating”.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Closing this many offices would pose a significant threat to the operation of HMRC, its service to the public and the working lives of staff, and the need for parliamentary scrutiny of the plans is undeniable and urgent.
The plan comes as HMRC faces criticism of its call centres, with its record of answering calls being described as “staggeringly bad” at the Commons Treasury committee earlier this month. Only half of calls were answered successfully between April and June, although performance has improved since.