Page last updated at 16:25 GMT, Thursday, 4 December 2008

Tax offices to shut in nine areas

Tax return form
The HMRC review looked at 'cluster' and 'individual' locations

Nine tax offices are to be closed in Wales affecting 370 HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) staff.

The closures, part of around 90 across the UK, were announced by Treasury Minister Stephen Timms.

The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) said the move would be "bad for business, the public and the taxpayer" and put devolution to the test.

HMRC said it had consulted staff and trade unions over its review with staff moves expected to begin in spring 2009.

The proposals are part of the organisation's Change Programme designed to consolidate its estates and improve its efficiency.

The office closure plans are due to be completed by 2012 at a pace which it says will enable it to "maintain and improve customer services" and save 4m in Wales alone.

Crown Buildings, Aberystwyth
Tŷ Glyn, Bangor
Government Buildings, Brecon
Tremains House, Bridgend
Tŷ Myrddin, Carmarthen
Government Buildings, Haverfordwest
Custom House, Pembroke Dock
Tŷ'r Felin, Pontypool
Llys Anwyl, Rhyl

In a statement, the HMRC said the review had looked at "cluster" locations which are groups of HMRC office buildings in smaller towns and cities within 15 miles (25km) of each other.

It had also reviewed what it called "individual" locations which are towns with HMRC offices more than 15 miles (25km) from other HMRC offices.

A total of nine offices will close across Wales with two offices in Chester also to close affecting a further 100 staff.

Meanwhile, six other offices will remain open and house the HMRC's future operations in Wales.

In addition, the HMRC's inquiry centre services, where customers receive face-to-face advice, will remain open in or near their current locations.

Staff who work at offices marked for closure will be offered posts at alternative locations within reasonable travelling distance of their former place of work.

It's Mickey Mouse economics and in effect, the Welsh Assembly Government and the Welsh taxpayer will be left to sweep up the mess from these London-based decisions
Jeff Evans, Public and Commercial Services union

Plaid Cymru AM Leanne Wood said: "I am extremely disappointed at this news.

"Too many of these closures will be in Wales' most deprived communities."

Jeff Evans, PCS's senior officer for Wales said: "The UK government are undermining the Welsh Assembly Government's approach which is to redistribute public sector jobs across Wales.

"One government is undermining the other government despite the fact that they're led by the same party.

"So it's Mickey Mouse economics and in effect, the Welsh Assembly Government and the Welsh taxpayer will be left to sweep up the mess from these London-based decisions."

South Wales East Conservative AM William Graham condemned the closing of the Pontypool office, saying it would affect businesses and people throughout Torfaen, Blaenau Gwent and north Monmouthshire.

Crown Buildings, Carmarthen
2 Coed Pella Road, Colwyn Bay
Platform One, Holyhead
Government Buildings, Merthyr Tydfil
Ty Moelwyn, Porthmadog
Plas Gororau, Wrexham

He said: "The assembly government claims to be supportive of policies to disperse employment opportunities throughout Wales, not concentrating them into major towns and cities along the M4 corridor.

"Enhanced communication and computer networks should allow offices to remain spread throughout all our communities, delivering a vital service - which can require face-to-face meetings to resolve."

In his statement on the HMRC office closures, Mr Timms said: "HMRC's regional review programme, which began in 2006, has been a massive and complex task. These have not been easy decisions.

"However, the overriding consideration has to be the department's need to address new and challenging customer demands by restructuring its business and estate in the most effective and efficient way possible."

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