Minister defends tax job losses

A GOVERNMENT minister defended the decision last night to close four Norfolk tax and customs offices, including the loss of 126 jobs in Great Yarmouth.

A GOVERNMENT minister defended the decision last night to close four Norfolk tax and customs offices, including the loss of 126 jobs in Great Yarmouth.

Stephen Timms, financial secretary to the treasury, said the closure of the Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) sites was not based solely on cost-cutting measures but on how best to serve the population of the county and tackle tax evasion.

Mr Timms remarks were made in the House of Commons yesterday during a debate called by Tony Wright the MP for Yarmouth, which faces losing its Havenbridge House office next year.

The closures are part of a national scheme to close more than 200 offices and shed 25,000 jobs by 2011, saving the government at least �30,000.

Mr Wright called the debate as he and the Public and Commercial Service Union fear that many Yarmouth HMRC employees will not be able to afford relocating to another office in Norwich to carry on in their posts.

Parliament heard a 62-year-old worker had estimated he would lose �104 by relocating from Yarmouth and that other staff would find it hard to get childcare or look after vulnerable relatives.

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Mr Wright said: “The average number of years that people have worked in the department exceeds 20.

“I do not know of any other industry or profession with such consistency, and over those 20 years, people have built up their professionalism, contacts and local knowledge.

“However, if we put in their way obstacles such as travel or care responsibilities, which do not allow them to strike a work-life balance, we will lose that professionalism.”

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