LIFE­LINE FOR 400 TAX STAFF

Ex­tra jobs to be re­tained at Cen­tre 1

East Kilbride News - - FRONT PAGE - Ni­cola Find­lay

A hard-fought bat­tle to keep thou­sands of tax of­fice jobs in East Kil­bride has been given fresh hope.

The Stay in EK Cam­paign, spear­headed by the Pub­lic and Com­mer­cial Ser­vices Union (PCS) and sup­ported by the News, wel­comed an an­nounce­ment by HMRC that they would keep 400 ex­tra posts at the town’s Cen­tre 1 of­fice un­til 2026.

HMRC plan to axe their Plaza of­fice in 2021 and Cen­tre 1 in 2026 with op­er­a­tions based at a re­gional cen­tre in Glas­gow, with the loss of 2700 jobs from East Kil­bride.

The PCS and lo­cal politi­cians have con­sis­tently hit out at the re­lo­ca­tion proposals.

And they in­sisted this week that the fight will go on in a bid to keep HMRC’s op­er­a­tion in the town.

PCS East Kil­bride branch pres­i­dent Scott Clark said: “We broadly wel­come the an­nounce­ment which will mean more mem­bers are able to con­tinue their ca­reers for longer with HMRC.

“But we call on HMRC and the West­min­ster Government to show some common sense and halt th­ese of­fice clo­sures, par­tic­u­larly when the coun­try doesn’t know what type of Brexit we are head­ing for or in­deed what Brexit will mean for pub­lic ser­vices as a whole.”

The Stay in EK cam­paign which is bat­tling to keep thou­sands of tax jobs in the town has re­ceived a mas­sive boost.

HMRC plan to axe the Plaza of­fice in 2021 and Cen­tre 1 in 2026 with op­er­a­tions based at a re­gional cen­tre in Glas­gow.

And this will see East Kil­bride lose around 2700 jobs.

How­ever, in changes an­nounced last week, HMRC say they will now keep 1500 staff at the tran­si­tional site in Cen­tre 1 at the point when the re­gional cen­tre has opened – 400 more than the 1000 pre­vi­ously stated when re­struc­tur­ing plans were an­nounced in 2016.

The move has been wel­comed by the Pub­lic and Com­mer­cial Ser­vices Union (PCS), who are spear­head­ing the Stay in EK cam­paign, which is sup­ported by the News.

But they – along with lo­cal politi­cians – are con­tin­u­ing to call on the Tory government in West­min­ster to halt the clo­sures.

PCS East Kil­bride branch pres­i­dent Scott Clark said: “We broadly wel­come the an­nounce­ment which will mean more mem­bers are able to con­tinue their ca­reers for longer with HMRC.

“PCS has con­sis­tently voiced our con­cerns that the num­bers in the Glas­gow region did not add up and we see th­ese in­cre­men­tal changes as, in part, both a re­sult and a vin­di­ca­tion of the cam­paign­ing that will con­tinue to take place in of­fices across the coun­try.

“To­day, over 4500 staff work in HMRC across East Kil­bride, Glas­gow and Cum­ber­nauld.

“Man­age­ment are cur­rently ask­ing part-time staff to con­sider in­creas­ing their hours to full-time over the next quar­ter as cur­rent re­sources sim­ply can­not meet de­mand.

“We call on HMRC and the West­min­ster Government to show some common sense and halt th­ese of­fice clo­sures, par­tic­u­larly when the coun­try doesn’t know what type of Brexit we are head­ing for or, in­deed, what Brexit will mean for pub­lic ser­vices as a whole.

“The Glas­gow Re­gional Cen­tre has room for 2870 staff by 2026. 4500 into 2870 does not equal a job for ev­ery­one. You don’t have to be a tax of­fi­cer to find the flaw in that for­mula.”

East Kil­bride, Strathaven and Les­mah­gow SNP MP Dr Lisa Cameron said: “I am hav­ing reg­u­lar meet­ings with PCS at West­min­ster on this re­served is­sue, and we are chal­leng­ing the Tory government ev­ery step of the way – with the key aim of pro­tect­ing and re­tain­ing our es­sen­tial HMRC jobs in East Kil­bride.

“I am pleased that a fur­ther 400 jobs will re­main in EK to 2025/26.

“How­ever, our fight for Cen­tre 1 to Stay in EK con­tin­ues, and I have sub­mit­ted fur­ther writ­ten par­lia­men­tary ques­tions this week to chal­lenge the Tory government plans to re­lo­cate.

“Also, I am writ­ing to the HMRC chief ex­ec­u­tive in terms of pro­tect­ing lo­cal jobs.”

East Kil­bride SNP MSP Linda Fabi­ani said: “Whilst it is wel­come news that there will be around 400 FTE [full-time equivalent] work­ers at Queensway House dur­ing the tran­si­tional pe­riod than orig­i­nally planned in 2016, we can­not lose sight of the fact that by 2026, there will no longer be an HMRC pres­ence in the town. “It will still be a dev­as­tat­ing blow. “I share con­cerns with PCS that the new site in Glas­gow will not be big enough to ac­com­mo­date all ex­ist­ing staff at sites in Cum­ber­nauld and East Kil­bride, and I will be seek­ing fur­ther as­sur­ances that all staff in East Kil­bride can con­tinue to have em­ploy­ment once the tran­si­tion is com­plete.

“I re­main op­posed to HMRC’s Build­ing our Fu­ture’s pro­gramme, which was pub­lished prior to the Euro­pean Union Ref­er­en­dum, and does not re­flect tax-col­lect­ing needs post-Brexit.

“I will do all I can to sup­port lo­cal work­ers and con­tinue to press the UK Government to lis­ten to con­cerns and act ac­cord­ingly be­fore it is too late.”

Labour’s Cen­tral Scot­land MSP Mon­ica Len­non wants the re­lo­ca­tion plan scrapped.

“I am pleased that the Stay in EK cam­paign has been suc­cess­ful in keep­ing some HMRC jobs here for longer,” she said.

“This demon­strates why we need strong trades unions and I com­mend PCS union for the way it has fought for its mem­bers.

“Around 1500 work­ers and their fam­i­lies have a few more years of se­cu­rity and that is pos­i­tive, but the planned re­lo­ca­tion of all 2700 posts from East Kil­bride by 2026 is noth­ing short of a cri­sis for a town that has wit­nessed a string of re­tail clo­sures this year alone.

“HMRC must go fur­ther and scrap its plans to leave East Kil­bride.”

Tory MSP Gra­ham Simp­son in­sists work con­tin­ues to get the “best deal.”

He said: “I re­ceived an up­date on this from HMRC chief ex­ec­u­tive Jon Thomp­son last week con­firm­ing what the union are say­ing and that is that there is no change to the plans for East Kil­bride.

“That’s dis­ap­point­ing but the good news is that we now ex­pect 1500 HMRC staff to be based at Queensway House, 400 more than pre­vi­ously planned.

“HMRC have also said that if some­one can get to a re­gional cen­tre, tran­si­tional site or spe­cial­ist site and has the skills they need or is able to develop them, there will be a role for them and mak­ing the tran­si­tional site larger gives them the flex­i­bil­ity to make sure col­leagues can stay longer.

“I have dis­cus­sions with Sec­re­tary of State David Mun­dell and will con­tinue to press for the best deal for EK.”

We can­not lose sight of the fact that by 2026 there will no longer be an HMRC pres­ence in the town...

New hope HMRC’s Cen­tre 1 tax of­fice in East Kil­bride

Jobs joy East Kil­bride’s Cen­tre 1 tax of­fice will re­tain 400 more posts dur­ing tran­si­tion phase

Common sense PCS union East Kil­bride branch pres­i­dent Scott Clark

Time for a re­think MSP Mon­ica Len­non

Fight con­tin­ues Dr Lisa Cameron MP

Big­ger pic­ture MSP Linda Fabi­ani

Best deal Gra­ham Simp­son MSP

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