Following a damning report on the HMRC office closure and relocation plans from the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, Livingston MP Hannah Bardell has said it shows ‘ poor decision making’ and puts further pressure on the UK government to reverse its decision to close the HMRC offices in West Lothian risking up to 1200 jobs.
The report says the HMRC has yet to demonstrate that it has a realistic and affordable plan to deliver such a radical change to its estate across the UK.
Further to this, the committee does not believe that the HMRC needs to be based in more expensive city sites, which underpins the argument Hannah Bardell and local campaigners have been making that keeping jobs local in West Lothian is not only the right thing to do – but will have significant cost savings.
She has called on the government to delay decision-making until Parliament resumes following the election and the HMRC report can be properly scrutinised.
Hannah Bardell said:
“We were told by the UK government that service would not be compromised by their closure plans, but it is clear the service on offer and the livelihoods of the workers are now very much at risk, very clearly going against its own criteria. This is just poor decision-making by the government and it means they are now being forced to choose between the quality and continuity of service and the cost.
“The report states that ‘measures being considered to de-scope the programme to reduce its costs could compromise the long-term outcomes sought by HMRC’ and recommends HMRC, HM Treasury and the Government Property Unit decide what matters most: a programme which makes savings for HMRC in the short to medium term; or one which optimises the value for money of HMRC’s and wider government’s estate in the long run.
“I’d like to hear how government plans to reconcile these conflicting challenges. It is vital for West Lothian that these jobs stay in West Lothian. HMRC employs more than 1000 vital staff who are more engaged and productive than almost anywhere else in the UK – 40% of whom are unlikely to move to Edinburgh.
“No decisions should be made on signing deals on HMRC until Parliament has resumed and this issue can be properly scrutinised.”