I very much welcome the publication today of another report – this time from the Public Accounts Committee – which further confirms that plans to close HMRC offices such as Cumbernauld are ill thought through, and tells HMRC to explain what assessment it has made of the impact on local economies.
I was pleased to submit evidence to the committee, and I welcome the fact that MPs recognise the potential impact on towns has not been properly considered, citing Cumbernauld as a specific case in point: “Closing down offices in any town will affect that local community. For example, HMRC employs around 1,500 people in Cumbernauld, who will be expected to move to the regional centre in Glasgow. Closure of the Cumbernauld office will have a serious impact on the town, community and local businesses. It also takes no account of the already overcrowded transport into the city”.
It is also welcome that the committee has agreed that in essence, Cumbernauld meets all the criteria for becoming an “HMRC hub” – reflecting this HMRC even had it on a 42 strong shortlist: “HMRC decided to close some large offices, such as Cumbernauld, Livingston, Wrexham, and Bradford, that appeared to tick the boxes for regional centres….HMRC told us that while it included Cumbernauld in its initial list of 42 locations, the town had not made the cut against its criteria”.
The message is clear – the Conservative government must think again. Its plans for HMRC are unjustified and potentially counterproductive. The HMRC office closure plan must be stopped now.