Regional HMRC hubs still in the offing

6th January 2017

Plans by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to save £100m by investing in the creation of regional hubs and closing a number of its existing offices took a step forward this week with the announcement of a new 107,000 sq ft base in Bristol.

It is hoped that 1,400 HMRC staff will be housed here, moving from regional offices across the South West by 2019.

Further regional hubs are expected to be formalised in the next 12 months, with offices in Liverpool, Cardiff, Belfast and Edinburgh in the offing. Meanwhile a deal has already been signed for HMRC’s South East-based staff in Croydon.

HMRC hopes that by consolidating its staff within 13 regional hubs across the UK it will save the tax authority up to £100m a year once the programme is completed in 2025.

Steven Boyd, Estates Director at HMRC, said: “This is about bringing people together in a smaller number of locations, but it’s also about improving services.

“The exact savings will depend on the deals we do between now and then.”

HMRC currently employs 58,000 staff, but that figure is expected to decline in the coming years as it seeks to find a more efficient way to operate than its current infrastructure of 170 offices dotted across the country.

“Almost everybody is affected in some way by this programme, with about 40,000 people directly affected by office moves,” added Boyd.

“By putting people together in new offices we will give people a better working environment but we’re also providing a long commitment to those locations.”

HMRC’s programme is part of an even bigger scheme overseen by the Government Property Unit, tasked with cutting the government estate from 800 buildings to less than 200 by 2023, shifting powers away from Whitehall and earning £5bn from property sales by the turn of the next decade.

The regional HMRC hubs have come in for criticism since their announcement, with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) fearing the timing of the changes “could stretch HMRC to breaking point”.

Frank Haskew, Head of Tax Faculty at ICAEW, said: “We shouldn’t underestimate the disruption that this restructuring will have on HMRC and the distraction it will cause to its leadership as they seek to implement it.

“Given the challenge of improving service standards and closing the tax gap, we are concerned that this is the wrong time to be reorganising, closing offices and cutting staff.”

However, as a UK taxpayer, you should remember that help and support is always close by at your local TaxAssist Accountants branch. With a nationwide network of over 290 tax experts, we have the knowledge to advise you of the best possible tax position you could be in.

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