Seconding a PCS led composite motion, Aberdeen Trade Union Council’s Kate Ramsden told Congress of the devastating impact that the closures will have.
“18 locations will close across Scotland with the loss of over 2,500 jobs. This is on top of other recent closures that saw all 281 HMRC public enquiry centres close in 2014.
“Since 2010 over 10,000 staff have lost their jobs in HMRC and many more have left of their own accord without being replaced due to the worsening terms and conditions.
“And since 2005 HMRC staffing levels have almost halved. So much for this government’s alleged commitment to dealing with tax evasion,” slammed Kate.
“Tory austerity measures have done nothing to close the tax gap which continues to stand at over £120 billion per year, and yet pursues benefit claimants for just over £1 billion per year. Their priorities are wrong and their motives are disturbing,” said Kate, pointing out that HMRC cannot hope to make inroads into the tax gap as staffing levels continue to fall.
She warned that as jobs are lost from Scottish local communities so does thousands of years of tax experience that will take decades to replace in the regional centres.
“Staff outside of the central belt – including staff in the North east – our part of the world - are almost certainly faced with redundancy, which the government fully appreciates. It is now consulting on new terms that will allow them to get rid of thousands of staff on the cheap.
She slammed HMRC claims that its digital plans for the future will mean that there will be no detriment to tax collection after the moves to the regional centres.
“When was the last time that someone paid their tax bill solely because a computer told them to?” asked Kate. “It’s already hard enough to get many of the richest to pay their taxes.”
She warned that by 2026 the internet will be the only way that you can contact HMRC.
“HMRC staff continue to be dedicated to serving the public and policing the tax system, despite pay freezes, pension cuts, reduced terms and conditions and a desperate performance management system that sees a mandatory 10% of staff receiving a must improve marking even if every member of staff achieves their objectives for the year.
“It’s a hideous way to have to work. Morale is at an all time low and very soon thousands of Scottish and UK public servants will be out of work.
“All of us here must do everything we can to reverse this madness,” said Kate, calling on all the delegates to campaign to overturn the decision to close HMRC offices before the first closures begin in 2017/18; to highlight the impact of these closures to the public; and to oppose the blatant austerity-led agenda of this Tory government."