HMRC has announced that it will roll out the Needs Enhanced Support (NES) service nationwide by the end of May 2014, resulting in the closure of all 281 enquiry centres and putting 1,300 face to face jobs at risk.
In a further co-ordinated announcement HMRC has targeted around 500 Administrative Assistant grades, primarily in Local Compliance, but also in Business Tax and Personal Tax to apply for a new Voluntary Exit Scheme (VES).
There has been no negotiation or consultation with PCS regarding these decisions.
The union believes that the timetable for these schemes do not give members enough time to fully consider the options and is encouraging members not to apply for these voluntary exit packages. Do not let HMRC pressurise you into making a snap decision which could affect the rest of your life.
Your union is fundamentally opposed to these job cuts and office closures and remains convinced that HMRC should be investing in staff to provide quality services and close the tax gap.
PCS has written to HMRC requesting urgent dialogue on the emerging staffing crisis in HMRC with the aim of achieving a jobs and staffing agreement which would protect our members and the services that they provide.
If HMRC refuse to enter into meaningful dialogue with us about these issues then the Group Executive Committee will have no choice than to consider balloting members for industrial action in pursuit of our aims.
We would encourage all members affected by these announcements to write to the Chief People Officer at William.W.Hague@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk and express your anger about this decision and the lack of information from HMRC regarding redeployment options.
All members should contact their MPs if they have not already done so here and ask them to support our campaign against the closures.
Support the overtime ban
There has been increasing evidence that overtime was being used to mask staff shortages. We saw increased overtime being offered to cover contact centre work in the run up to the SA filing deadline at a time when FTAs were being told their contracts would not be renewed.
In DMB they are offering voluntary exit packages to staff at all grades in a number of locations, whilst at the same time asking them to work overtime before they go.
Alongside the announcements to close all Enquiry Centres and the further VE/VR schemes, this underlines the increasing decimation of HMRC with the loss of further jobs and a declining service to the taxpayer.
This is a situation which will get worse with less and less staff and not enough hours in the day to get the job done. The department should be hiring staff rather than firing them and spending millions on overtime to clear backlogs and get the work done.
It makes no economic sense to be cutting jobs in HMRC especially when there is £25.8 billion of tax going uncollected. The millions spent on overtime would be better spent on permanent staff to provide a better service and to chase the £25.8 billion of uncollected tax.
It is therefore more crucial than ever that members respect the overtime ban which will help PCS argue that resources should be directed into quality permanent jobs.
Bootle Taxes Branch members have responded brilliantly to the ban over the past few years and wider union support for the ban has also remained strong. It is crucial that this support continues.
Members suffering extreme financial hardship are reminded that we have a Branch and a Group Hardship Fund. Applications to the fund can be made via your Branch reps.