Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs has commenced consultations with a view to close all 281 tax enquiry centres, including ten in Sussex and as a result over 50 jobs may be lost in tax enquiry centres throughout our area.
The under-threat centres in Bognor Regis and Chichester and various other ciites in the South of England currently employ 51 people who give face-to-face tax advice.
The cost-saving proposals to close the centres and replace them with a telephone service. The planned move is claimed will save customers almost £12 million a year in lost time and travel costs and slash running costs by more than £13 million a year.
A five-month trial of the new telephone service in will start in June and will initially see 13 enquiry centres closed.
Critics of the proposed cuts backs say that closing the physical centres are likely to make the already “disgraceful” phone help service even worse.
The chair of the Commons public accounts committee, Margaret Hodge MP, said the closures would put even more pressure on phone service which have been condemned for costing callers £136 million a year through delays in answering calls. “Just how the department is going to improve standards of customer service, given the prospect of its having fewer staff and receiving a higher volume of calls, is open to question.” she said.
HMRC chief executive, Lin Homer, said: “We will give a more specialised phone service for customers whose affairs can be resolved over the telephone, and face-to-face help to those who need it, visiting them at a place convenient to them.”