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Yarmouth tax office closure defended

PUBLISHED: 10:09 29 March 2010 | UPDATED: 17:14 30 June 2010

Cost-cutting plans to close four tax and customs offices in Norfolk will not affect the service offered to the public, officials said last night.

Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) offices at Havenbridge House in Great Yarmouth, Custom House in King's Lynn, Roseberry Court in Norwich and Dereham's Church Street are all set to close by the end of next year.

Cost-cutting plans to close four tax and customs offices in Norfolk will not affect the service offered to the public, officials said last night.

Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) offices at Havenbridge House in Great Yarmouth, Custom House in King's Lynn, Roseberry Court in Norwich and Dereham's Church Street are all set to close by the end of next year.

The closures are part of a nationwide review of HMRC branches which will see 130 offices close in 2011. The Public and Commercial Service Union, which fought the closures for more than a year, said that up to 1,700 jobs may be at risk.

In Norfolk, about 200 posts from the closed offices are expected to be relocated to other tax sites in the county - prompting criticism that customer satisfaction would be damaged.

But HMRC spokesman Maddy Ratnett said the “face-to-face” service offered to the public would remain unchanged.

“HMRC are very much aware that there are customers who need

face-to-face support to pay what they owe or claim what they are due,” she said.

“When we announced our plans to reduce the number of offices we use, we made it clear that in locations we were vacating we would still provide a face-to-face advice service, either in or near the existing location.

“All the offices that have an inquiry point for the general public at the moment will continue to have that inquiry point. It is only back office procedures which are changing. It will make no difference at all to the general public.”

Mrs Ratnett said working hours could be shortened in some offices where there was a low footfall, or inadequate buildings may be vacated in favour of more suitable locations within the same town or area.

“There may be some changes in the future, but there are no plans at the moment to change anything in the offices in Norfolk,” she said.

The closure schedule will be staggered during the coming months. The HMRC office at Dereham will close by the end of this month, but the inquiry centre on Church Street will remain open as usual.

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