Closure of Dereham tax office defence
Chris HillCost-cutting plans to close four tax and customs offices in Norfolk will not affect the service offered to the public, officials said last night. The Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) offices at Church Street in Dereham, Havenbridge House in Great Yarmouth, Custom House in King's Lynn and Roseberry Court in Norwich are all set to close by the end of next year.Chris Hill
Cost-cutting plans to close four tax and customs offices in Norfolk will not affect the service offered to the public, officials said last night.
The Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) offices at Church Street in Dereham, Havenbridge House in Great Yarmouth, Custom House in King's Lynn and Roseberry Court in Norwich are all set to close by the end of next year.
The closures are part of a nationwide review of HMRC branches which will see 130 offices close in 2011. The Public and Commercial Service Union, which fought the closures for more than a year, said that up to 1,700 jobs may be at risk.
In Norfolk, about 200 posts from the closed offices are expected to be relocated to other tax sites in the county - prompting criticism that customer satisfaction would be damaged.
But HMRC spokesman Maddy Ratnett said the 'face-to-face' service offered to the public would remain unchanged.
'HMRC are very much aware that there are customers who need face-to-face support to pay what they owe or claim what they are due,' she said.
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'When we announced our plans to reduce the number of offices we use, we made it clear that in locations we were vacating we would still provide a face-to-face advice service, either in or near the existing location.
'All the offices that have an enquiry point for the general public at the moment will continue to have that enquiry point. It is only back office procedures which are changing. It will make no difference at all to the general public.'
Mrs Ratnett said working hours could be shortened in some offices where there was a low footfall, or inadequate buildings may be vacated in favour of more suitable locations within the same town or area.
'There may be some changes in the future, but there are no plans at the moment to change anything in the offices in Norfolk,' she said.
The closure schedule will be staggered during the coming months. The HMRC office at Dereham will close by the end of this month, but the enquiry centre on Church Street will remain open as usual.