All 281 HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) Enquiry Centres have been threatened with closure but Isle of Wight tax officers are fighting to keep the islands last tax office open and to keep the service they provide local for the benefit of local people.
HMRC are running a consultation up to 24th May to find out if the public will accept the office closures. Instead of speaking with a tax officer in person the public will be directed to use the phone helplines or use the internet to look up information.
Enquiry centres deal with the most vulnerable in the UK as well as pensioners and tax credit claimants. Even HMRC figures show that two and a half million 2,500,000) people are using this service. Of these an estimated one and a half million (1,500.000) find dealing with HMRC difficulty because they are disabled or have restricted learning issues such as low literacy or that English is not their first language.
In the Westminster Hall debate Andrew Turner MP raised questions over the savings HMRC claimed will be found by closing the centres.
Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union who are the staff working in the Enquiry Centre in Newport will be leafleting about the closure and the consultation. PCS members will be asking the public to sign letters supporting the campaign.
PCS demand that the current government keep the Enquiry centres open. PCS members will be in St Thomas’s Square Newport on Weds 15th May between midday and 14:00.
Patrick Smyth Branch Chair PCS Portsdown Vectis said: “We want the public to be aware of this threat to remove this valuable service to the island community. The government has a duty to ensure that the public are confident that they are paying the correct amount of tax. The Enquiry Centre provides people with help to get their tax right. Closing the Enquiry centre is a false economy as it will only mean charities and groups such as the Citizens advice Bureau will be under more pressure to provide help.”
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