The National Audit Office (NAO) report, published in January 2017, highlighted the severe flaws in the UK Government’s plan to close HMRC offices across the UK , labelling it: “unrealistic”, “over-optimistic” and “carrying a high risk of disruption”.
Cumbernauld tax office, by the Government’s own measures, meets all the key criteria for a successful regional centre, with experienced staff and an excellent location. 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 overall programme is bad for staff, bad for communities and bad for taxpayers - it should be abandoned.
Jamie Hepburn MSP and I called upon North Lanarkshire Council to carry out a Socio Economic Impact Assessment of the plans to which they have agreed. This assessment will provide a clearer picture of the impact of this closure on the local community and economy. This should then be presented to the UK Government for consideration and a full response.
I have also met with the Scottish Secretary twice and a representative from HMRC at Dover House on one occasion to discuss the UK Government's plan to close Cumbernauld tax office. I highlighted in both meetings the significant impact the closure of the Cumbernauld site would have on both the staff and the local community, and pointed out that Cumbernauld office has the skills, experience and location to operate successfully as an HMRC hub in its own right.
Regrettably, HMRC continue to pursue their programme of office closures and believe the new Glasgow hub is on schedule. That said, there is an acknowledgement that plans may have to change given uncertainty around Brexit - and there is the option of extending the lease of the Cumbernauld Office. I will continue to make the case that Cumbernauld Office should not be closed.
I also used these meetings to flag up concerns about travel times and costs, disabled parking spaces, accommodating workers with caring responsibilities and other issues that have been raised with me and I will continue to do that.
I know this is an uncertain and stressful time for workers at HMRC and if I can help in any way, please do not hesitate to contact me.