“Head in sand” UK Treasury getting “sums wrong” over Inverness HMRC redundancies says Local MP

hmrcU.K. Government dodges reply and refuses to meet Drew Hendry MP over fate of skilled HMRC jobs.

According to the HMRC’s own data recently published just 68.3% of 1,433,235 calls about tax credits received in March of this year were dealt with compared with 98.3% of the 1,124,860 calls made on the same subject in March last year. Even more startling is that 277,799 calls placed to HMRC were abandoned, compared with 12,250 in March 2014.

Earlier this year the organisation announced it was allocating £45m from its spending settlement to pay for 3,000 extra temporary staff and that it would also be temporarily moving about 2,000 staff from other parts of HMRC to help with the tax credits deadline.

Yet only last week the Commons public accounts committee found that the level of customer service provided by HMRC is now so unacceptably poor that it could be considered a ‘genuine threat to tax collection’ and other services. As many as one in three phone calls to HM Revenue & Customs still went unanswered in recent months.

Commenting on the damming reports MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey, Drew Hendry said “The level of underperformance at HMRC is deeply concerning especially with the UK Governments punitive Tax Credit changes looming. More than ever people will need to speak to advisors about their worsening situations.

 “The HMRC is getting its sums wrong as this report comes only days before employees of the Inverness HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) debt management and banking team are to receive an update on the HMRC office relocation plans set to result in local job losses.

 “I have been working on behalf of the 10 employees affected since the organisation reopened redundancy consultations a couple of months ago. It is expected that the announcement, due on Thursday, will reduce UK regional offices for these services to around eight offices with a Scotland office based in either Glasgow or Edinburgh.  

“It is unacceptable that these women should lose their jobs because of their location especially when their skills are so obviously needed in other areas of the organisation. Whilst it not feasible for them to relocate to Glasgow or Edinburgh they are flexible and willing to retrain in other services.

“Indeed when I met with the employees I was extremely impressed at the range of suggestions they had as to how they could support the HMRC including working from home or from different local offices if, as previously cited by the HMRC, the cost of property is the issue.

“They already operate as a virtual team providing support to people across the whole of the UK as well as locally.  Over the years this team has diversified, taken on new roles and additional workload. They can and are more than willing to do it again.

“These women are highly skilled, positive, dedicated workers who are being punished because they do not fit in with the HMRC’s plans.  I will not accept that they should lose their jobs at a time when the HMRC is failing the public in other parts of the organisation.

“I wrote to the Treasury back in September on this matter and was astounded at having to wait over a month for a response only to be told that a meeting was “not possible” by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mr David Gauke. The Minister obviously thinks that he can sweep these job losses under the carpet and avoid answering our questions, this was underlined when he was recently asked about this matter, in parliament, by my SNP colleague Stuart MacDonald MP for Cumbernauld.

“I will continue to press the Treasury to rethink these inflexible plans that will see highly skilled workers at the HMRC made unemployed at a time when their skills are desperately needed.”