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150 tax workers to lose jobs

PUBLISHED: 11:39 04 December 2008 | UPDATED: 12:26 03 July 2010

NEARLY 150 tax workers were left shocked and angry this morning after learning that HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is to go ahead with its plan to pull out of Great Yarmouth.

NEARLY 150 tax workers were left shocked and angry this morning after learning that HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is to go ahead with its plan to pull out of Great Yarmouth.

Despite intense lobbying by the PCS Union, HMRC has told staff that the transfer of staff from riverside Havenbridge House to Norwich will begin next April and the office will close by April 2010 - a year earlier than originally suggested.

The closure is part of a centralisation strategy that will also see the closure of the tax office in Dereham, affecting 30 staff, and the smallest of three offices in Norwich.

PCS union representative Colin Fox, who works at Havenbridge House, said the decision would signal unemployment for many staff because it was unrealistic for lowly-paid clerical workers to commute to Norwich.

He said: “Half of our staff in Yarmouth also have caring responsibilities and many others are part-timers. We feel we had valid arguments for saving the office but we have not been listened to.”

He said there was no evidence to support HMRC's argument that consolidating work in fewer locations would enable more efficient working and improve customer service.

“It seems to be purely about reducing headcount. They would have been aware that many staff would not be able to afford to transfer to Norwich and would have to look for other jobs, an option becoming far more difficult in the current economic climate,” he said.

Mr Fox said they planned to continue their two-year battle, lobbying Yarmouth MP Tony Wright and anyone else they could think of. He said: “This is not just about our jobs, it is taking jobs away from the town which can't afford it as the 63rd most deprived area in the country.”

Lina Curtis, the PCS representative in Dereham, said staff were very disappointed by today's announcement that the Church Street office would be closing after so many years.

She said: “Although HMRC will provide support with travel costs for a time, on civil service salaries staff will have to think whether it is realistic in the longer term to travel to work in Norwich or King's Lynn.”

She said although there was a ministerial commitment to retain a customer contact point in the town that had not been elaborated on in today's announcement.


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