On Thursday 12 November, HM Revenue & Customs unveiled its ‘Building Our Future’ location strategy, with simultaneous announcements to all of its staff across the country. Almost all of its 170 offices will be closing to be replaced by 13 regional centres and 4 specialist sites over the next five years. Although some existing sites will remain open longer, by 2021 HMRC will be operating out of just 35 locations.
For PCS members in Bootle, the news is particularly galling. Litherland House and Comben House are expected to close in 2018-19, followed by The Triad and St John’s House in 2019-20. This has a significant and in some cases devastating impact on most of our members.
A move to a central Liverpool location clearly means additional travel time for many, which will not be compensated for. For some this puts their job in jeopardy as fitting personal circumstances such as caring responsibilities into significantly increased travelling time will be impossible.
Many members will also face additional costs, with car parking charges and the like having a major detrimental impact, especially in the current climate of below inflation pay rises. In effect even at a notional average additional cost of £2 a day, which is a conservative estimate, this will cost members over £500 per year, something many simply cannot afford.
Many questions remain unanswered, specifically where the new office will be, the city centre is after all a rather large location; the business district around Moorfields would not cause as many problems as a move to the other side of Liverpool One which would dramatically increase travelling time, dragging more members into a situation where their job could be affected.
The ‘Battle for Bootle’ campaign was launched to oppose these closures. Not only because of the devastating impact on many members, but also because the removal of 3,000 Jobs from Central Bootle will kill the local economy.
We believe the plans in their entirety represent the simplistic vision of a senior civil service who like the way things look on paper, and don’t care in the slightest how their organisational pipe dream impacts on people. The reality is these plans hurt, both members and the Bootle community as a whole.
We will not stand idly by and let their obsessive vision of having thirteen offices across the UK, a vision that does not stand up to the simplest economic scrutiny, damage so many lives.
No one should assume these announcements represent a forgone conclusion. And we will campaign vigorously over the next few years to ensure they don’t happen.