A member of Labour’s frontbench ministerial team will visit the region tomorrow to discuss the future of hundreds of tax office jobs and back a local MP’s campaign to stop the roles from being moved away from Wrexham.
Staff at Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs’ (HMRC) Wrexham Technology Park site – which is home to a workforce of about 300 – face being relocated to either Liverpool or Cardiff as part of government plans to close the town’s office by 2021.
In 2015 the then chief executive of HMRC said there were “too many expensive, isolated and outdated offices”, which “makes it difficult for us to collaborate, modernise our ways of working, and make the changes we need to transform our service to customers and clamp down further on the minority who try to cheat the system.”
Wrexham MP Ian Lucas has been fighting to keep the jobs in Wrexham and tomorrow he will welcome Labour’s shadow treasury minister Anneliese Dodds MP for a meeting with HMRC employees represented by the PCS union.
Ms Dodds is conducting a review of the impact of HMRC cuts and office closures for the shadow treasury team. The meeting in Wrexham is one of a series across the UK discuss the issue with affected staff and look at how Labour would reverse the policy to benefit our towns.
Mr Lucas said: “The Tory Government likes to see itself as representing market towns, small businesses and local communities. The reality, however, is that its policies are shifting wealth, opportunity and services away from towns to cities.
“They are proposing that more than 300 skilled public sector jobs be moved from Wrexham to regional centres in the North West of England or Cardiff. Not only is this unfair on the workforce, but the importance of Wrexham would be diminished by such a move – and the spending power in our town economy would be reduced. These jobs must be kept in Wrexham.
“I am pleased that Anneliese Dodds is showing her support as the fight to defend these jobs for our community –and others across the UK – continues.”
The UK’s tax authority announced in 2015 that it intended to close 137 local offices and replace them with 13 regional centres. Staff in the Wrexham office have been told they can move to the regional centres in either Liverpool or Cardiff with no North Wales presence for HMRC.
Ms Dodds has already found that there has been a negative impact in towns where local offices have closed, with many staff not able to shift to commuting to their new regional hub. She is also concerned about the impact of the new hub system on customs preparedness, in the light of additional pressures from Brexit.
A report by Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee last year also pointed out how the HMRC plans would be damaging to towns like Wrexham.