Cumbernauld’s MP, Stuart McDonald and MSP Jamie Hepburn have condemned the decision by the UK government to close Cumbernauld tax office and relocate jobs to a new “West of Scotland Campus” in Glasgow.
Mr McDonald is meeting with local PCS representatives tomorrow (Friday) to discuss the announcement and will seek to have an urgent question taken in the House of Commons on its return on Monday.
Mr McDonald said:
“This is an appalling decision and will be a bitter blow for hard working HMRC staff in Cumbernauld, and their families.
“Compounding this dreadful situation, there still seem far too many unknowns for local staff. We don’t know whether the office will close by 2019 or 2020; they have no idea whether they will be doing similar work in Glasgow or will be required to retrain for totally new jobs; and staff are still waiting to hear if and when some of them will be required to move well before the closure date.
“And across Scotland, we don’t know what the effect will be on the total number of jobs at HMRC – up to 2,000 appear to be at risk, but no detail is forthcoming.
“The lack of engagement with PCS union nationally is disgraceful. It’s clear the interests and wellbeing of staff is far from the number one priority for the UK government. What’s driving these moves is George Osborne’s austerity cuts agenda, which was overwhelmingly rejected here in May’s election.
“I’ll be meeting PCS members and will offer my full support”.
Mr Hepburn said:
“This is absolutely awful news for the workers affected, and our priority is support for them and their families. But this is also terrible news for the town of Cumbernauld as a whole.
“As our largest employer, the loss of these good quality jobs is a very serious blow. So too is the knock-on effect this decision will have on town centre businesses which get a lot of good trade from the presence of these jobs here.
“So our first priority is of course looking after the staff affected. But we must also see what can be done to attract new jobs to the site of the tax office.
It is clear that the effect on local economies and jobs was low priority for the Tory government when it came to making decisions – if it was considered at all”.
Mr McDonald has previously raised concerns in Parliament that the possible effect of the closure on Cumbernauld Town Centre wasn’t being considered, and last week challenged the Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell, to stand up for local jobs. Instead Mr Mundell left it for his Treasury colleague, David Gauke, to provide a perfunctory answer. When the original proposals to close Cumbernauld tax office became public knowledge earlier this year, Mr Hepburn wrote to Mr Gauke to object and called the proposals shocking.