Local MP Stuart McDonald has slammed the UK Government’s reasoning for the proposed closure of Cumbernauld tax Office and urged the powerful Public Accounts Committee of the House of Commons to intervene.
After raising the issue in Parliament, the local MP was promised a letter from Jane Ellison MP, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. That letter arrived last week but Mr McDonald has criticised it for gobbledygook and lack of hard facts.
The letter states that the decision has been taken as part of a Government strategy to develop Government ‘hubs’, which the government says “will help to maximise flexibility, collaboration and customer service while reducing costs to the taxpayer. HMRC has chosen to locate its future regional centre in Glasgow because it believes that it satisfies the location principles more comprehensively than any other alternative for the Glasgow Region as a whole.
Mr McDonald said this response fails to answer his question or address the serious concerns regarding the UK Governments proposals:
“So far, HMRC have offered nothing in the way of justification for the decision, beyond its broad and vague overall objectives. As I pointed out during the recent urgent question on this issue, Cumbernauld actually ticks all the boxes of what HMRC are looking for in a regional office, including location, size and staff experience.”
The MP has now called on a Parliamentary committee to investigate the decision to close the HMRC office in Cumbernauld as part of their inquiry into the HMRC Estate which will be taking evidence this week. In a letter to Meg Hillier, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, the MP wrote:
“I understand that the Public Accounts Committee will be hearing evidence for the HMRC Estate inquiry on Wednesday 25th January. We now find ourselves at a crucial stage in the process and I would be grateful if the committee could take the time to scrutinise the decision to close the Cumbernauld office in greater detail
“Many of my constituents are rightly alarmed at the potential consequences of the decision to close the Cumbernauld HMRC office. I would therefore urge the committee to take this opportunity to investigate the decision and establish the impact this will have on members of staff and the wider community, and whether this programme of reorganisation and cuts makes any sense at all.”
The Public Accounts Committee will meet on the HMRC Estate on Wednesday 25 January 2017.
Commenting Stuart McDonald said:
“Cumbernauld tax office, by the UK Government’s own measures, meets all the key criteria for a successful regional centre, with experienced staff and an excellent location in Central Scotland.
“It makes absolutely no sense for the UK Government to close the tax office in Cumbernauld, a decision which will cause significant disruption to employees and damage the local community.
“The appalling and unnecessary decision to close the HMRC office is not just unfavourable to staff but may cause serious harm to the local community and small businesses in Cumbernauld – none of which appears to have been a consideration.
“The overall programme is bad for staff, bad for communities and bad for taxpayers and should be abandoned.”