HMRC to shut 137 offices over next five years as part of digital strategy

HMRC’s modernisation plans mean it will close 137 of its 170 offices across the country over the next five years, by 2020 to 2021, affecting 60,000 staff with unconfirmed job losses as the tax department moves its operations into 13 super hubs

Scotland’s Kilbride office is likely to be among the larger offices to be shut, with current staffing levels around 6,000, as it is located close to a large centre in Glasgow.

The first closures – planned for March 2017 –  are expected to include HMRC offices such as those in Plymouth, Milton Keynes, Chelmsford, Harrogate and Colchester while the next round, expected in October of 2017, including HMRC offices located in Belfast, Craigavon, Swindon, Gloucester and Staines.

The department expects that 90% of the current workforces will either work in a regional centre or see out their career at an HMRC office.

The restructuring is not about cuts, according to an HMRC spokesperson, ‘but ‘we are reducing in size.

‘Digitisation is going to change everything; ten years ago 38,000 taxpayers filed their tax return online, now it is 8.75m’.

HMRC said that there would be will be job losses but the age profile of HMRC’s staff, especially outside of the big cities, will be a factor, with a high proportion of staff approaching retirement age, particularly as the office reorganisation is part of a five-year plan.

Almost 37% of HMRC employees are aged between 45 and 54 and almost 9% are aged over 60, according to HMRC’s workforce statistics published for 2013-2014.

There will be new sites in all major urban centres and small micro offices will be closed.

‘This is about moving towards a modern structure and with the move online, it is going to cut costs. We will need fewer people’.

HMRC has failed to provide any clarity on the numbers involved in the inevitable cuts ahead but in line with its focus and drive to go digital and use its expensive systems said it needs ‘tax specialists with digital skills, along with data analysts and digital experts’.

‘That’s why we plan to work with universities and local colleges to attract the best and brightest talent. We have cutting-edge systems that enable analysts to sort and sift billions of pieces of data to find discrepancies – so we need people who understand digital technology and can make the most of it,’ HMRC said.

HMRC said it will also also retain a scaled-back presence in our 100 Parliament Street headquarters, ‘for people who genuinely need to be near to Ministers.’

Office closure details and dates

A Public and Commercial Services union spokesman said that they had not been given any detail of the affected number of those that would suffer job cuts.

‘We don’t expect they will put out anything further until after the Spending Review [and Autumn Statement on 25 November].

‘They’ve given us various figures over the last few months, only to change them, so there’s nothing reliable available,’ the spokesman said.

The union does however expect huge numbers to take redundancy as a result of the geographical impact of the plans.

‘You’re than likely to get experienced staff leaving as a result of this, especially those who now have to travel further to go to new resource centres, for example in Wales and Scotland, where there is a single resource centre covering a huge geographical area.

‘It is more likely people will take redundancy even on reduced terms [in line with new rules capping redundancy payment for civil servants at £95,000].

East Midlands

HMRC’s workforce is currently spread among six offices, of which it will close five between 2016-17 and 2020-21. HMRC expects between 2,300 and 2,600 full-time equivalent employees to work in the regional centre, based in Nottingham.

The five offices set for closure are:

● Northgate House in Derby will close in 2018-19, with staff moving to Castle Meadow campus in Nottingham ahead of a move into the new regional centre in Nottingham in 2020-21. 

● Saxon House in Leicester will close in 2020-21, with staff moving to the new regional centre in Nottingham at the same time.

● Lawress Hall in Lincoln will close in 2020-21, staff may move to the new regional centre in Nottingham at the same time.

● Cromwell House in Lincoln will close in 2016-17, with staff moving to Lawress Hall for a transitional period before that closes in 2020-21. Staff will then move to the new regional centre in Nottingham.

● Markham House in Chesterfield will close in 2016-17, with staff moving to Castle Meadow campus in Nottingham ahead of a move into the new regional centre in Nottingham in 2020-21.

Nottingham’s Caste Meadow campus will remain open until 2020-21, when the move will be made into a new regional centre in Nottingham. A decision has yet to be made as to whether this will remain on the Caste Meadow site or at a brand new location in the city.

‘We cannot currently say more about the location of the new regional centre, because we need to negotiate with landlords and contractors, but it will be in Nottingham, in an area with good transport links,’ HMRC said.

London, South East, East of England

HMRC will be closing 43 offices in the London, South East and East of England region in total between 2016 and 2028. HMRC expects between 5,000 and 5,300 full-time equivalent employees to work in the Stratford regional centre and 2,500 to 2,800 full-time equivalent employees in the Croydon regional centre.

‘We cannot currently say more about the locations of the two new regional centres, because we need to negotiate with landlords and contractors, but they will be in Croydon and Stratford, with good transport links,’ HMRC said.

Offices set to close are:

             

Bedford

2016-17

Brighton

2018-19

Cambridge

2018-19

Canterbury

2019-20

Chatham

2016-17

Chelmsford

2016-17

Colchester

2016-17

Crawley

2017-18

Felixstowe

2016-17

Gravesend

2019-20

Harwich

2017-18

Ipswich Haven House

2027-28

Ipswich St Clare's House

2023-24

London Berkeley House

2016-17

London Bush House

2019-20

London Capitol House

2020-21

London Custom House

2019-20

London Dorset House

2019-20

London Euston

2020-21

London Ealing International House

2020-21

London Riverside House

2017-21

Luton

2020-21

Maidstone

2020-21

Milton Keynes

2016-17

Norwich

2016-17

Oxford

2017-18

Peterborough (Churchgate)

2020-21

Peterborough (Clifton House)

2017-18

Portsmouth (Lynx House)

2025-26

Portsmouth (Wingfield House)

2018-19

Reading

2024-25

Redhill

2018-19

Romford

2016-17

Southampton

2019-20

Southend

2019-20

Staines Forum House

2017-18

Staines Heliting House

2017-18

Surbiton

2017-18

Tilbury

2016-17

Uxbridge

2018-19

Watford

2020-21

Wembley

2020-21

Woking

2017-18

  

Croydon

New Regional Centre

Dover

Specialist site

Erith

Under separate review

London Stratford

New Regional Centre

London 100 Parliament St

Head Office

Peterborough Storage Centre

Under separate review

Raleigh

Under separate review

Worthing

Specialist site

Northern Ireland

HMRC will be closing 10 offices in Northern Ireland between 2016-17 and 2020-21.

Its workforce in the region is currently spread throughout 10 offices, which range in size from around 420 people to fewer than 20.

HMRC confirmed it will close most of its existing offices in Northern Ireland by 2017-18, as it moves most employees into the new regional centres.

Offices set to close are:

  • Newry, Custom House will close in June 2016
  • Coleraine, Fern house will close in  2016 -17
  • Craigavon, Marlborough House will close on  2017-18
  • Enniskillen, Abbey House will close in 2017-18
  • Belfast, Beaufort House will close in 2017-18
  • Belfast, Carne house will close in 2017-18
  • Belfast, Custom House will close in 2017-18
  • Belfast, Dorchester House will close in 2017-18
  • Lisburn, Moira House will close in 2019-20
  • Londonderry, Foyle House will close in 2020-21

 

New regional centres

It is understood that HMRC will not be providing a relocation package for staff who are offered jobs in nearby regional centres, although ‘this will be treated on a case by case basis’.

HMRC said it will tell its workers if they are moving to another office around a year in advance.

For those moving into a new regional centre, HMRC will set out a clear timetable as soon as its commercial negotiations have finished.

‘We can’t yet say more about the exact locations, because we need to negotiate with landlords and contractors,’ HMRC said.

HMRC is expected to locate the 13 regional centres in the following cities, with the associated opening dates:

● North East - Newcastle (planned to open in 2018)

● North West - Manchester and Liverpool (planned to open in 2019-20)

● Yorkshire and the Humber - Leeds (planned to open in 2020-21)

● East Midlands - Nottingham (planned to open in 2020-21)

● West Midlands - Birmingham (planned to open in 2020-21)

● Wales - Cardiff (planned to open in 2019-20)

● Northern Ireland - Belfast (planned to open in 2017-18)

● Scotland - Glasgow (planned to open in 2019-20) and Edinburgh (planned to open in 2020-21)

● South West - Bristol (planned to open in 2017-18)

● London, South East and East of England - Croydon (planned to open in 2016-17) and Stratford (planned to open in 2019-20).

Sizes of the regional centres will vary, ranging from smaller hubs with 1,200 to 1,700 full-time equivalent employees at one end of the scale to 5,700 to 6,300 at the other.

HMRC plans to open the first regional centre during 2017-2017 with others opening over the following four years.

‘We’ve explored a range of possible sites, from existing HMRC offices to new buildings that, in some cases, are still in the planning stage,’ said HMRC.

It will also keep a limited number of ‘transitional sites’ open, to enable some staff to continue working for up to 10 years and in some cases, 12 years.

‘They are located in Reading, Ipswich, Portsmouth, Washington and, subject to agreeing better terms with our landlord, East Kilbride,’ HMRC said.

Further, the department will maintain four specialist sites ‘for work that cannot be done elsewhere, notably where we need to work with our IT suppliers or other government agencies or departments. These sites will be in Telford, Worthing, Dover and at the Scottish Crime Campus in Gartcosh.’

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Penny Sukhraj |Content editor, Accountancy - (up to 2016)

Penny Sukhraj, former content editor and writer for Accountancy and Accountancy Live, responsible for commissioning and editing news...

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