Hundreds of supporters and dozens of MPs showed their support for the PCS campaign against HMRC office closures and job cuts.
The rally outside parliament on 1 March to show solidarity with HMRC members was attended by hundreds of people, many holding PCS flags, who braved the wet weather. They heard from shadow shancellor of the exchequer John McDonnell MP, Chris Stephens MP (the new PCS parliamentary group chair) and our general secretary, Mark Serwotka.
All spoke of their opposition to the department’s destructive plans, which threaten thousands of jobs and aim to close all 160 HMRC offices and move them out of towns into regional centres miles away from current locations.
In November 2015, HMRC announced its plans to shut all its offices and open 13 regional hubs and 4 specialist centres putting the future of thousands of staff at risk given many staff will not be able to relocate to new regional hubs due to them being outside reasonable daily travel.
These proposals pose a significant threat to the operation of HMRC, its service to the public and the working lives of staff. The threat is so severe, we believe, that as well as entering into genuine negotiations, HMRC must launch a high-profile public consultation and allow its proposals to be subject to full parliamentary scrutiny.
Local presence vital
MPs and tax experts have previously supported our view that a visible, local HMRC presence is essential to maintaining confidence in our tax system and ensure taxpayers comply with their obligations. The proposals under the HMRC ‘plan’ called “Building our future” would not only be absolutely devastating for HMRC and the people currently employed by the deparment but also for the provision of local services.
The shadow chancellor told the lunchtime rally: “The last thing you do if you want to close the tax gap is close offices and cut staff.”
Mark said the government should invest in HMRC to “cut the tax gap not workers’ jobs.” He also said that cuts to HMRC were “part of a picture of cuts across the civil service.”
Following the rally we had our best ever parliamentary briefing session inside the House of Commons with more than 80 MPs in attendance. PCS members, some of whom had travelled hundreds of miles, were able to explain to their MP the impact of the attacks on their livelihoods and communities.
We have also asked MPs to sign a House of Commons early day motion that calls on the government to suspend the closures and hold a comprehensive consultation.
Support the campaign
Attend our Budget Day demonstration – Wednesday 16 March, assemble 12.30pm, South Park.
Sign and share the petition against the closures here