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Dereham tax office closure defended

PUBLISHED: 11:50 12 March 2009 | UPDATED: 15:05 07 July 2010

A government minister defended the decision last night to close four Norfolk tax and customs offices - including the one at Dereham.

Stephen Timms, financial secretary to the treasury, said the closure of the Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs(HMRC) sites was not based solely on cost-cutting measures but on how best to serve the population of the county and tackle tax evasion.

A government minister has defended the decision to close four Norfolk tax and customs offices - including one at Dereham.

Stephen Timms, financial secretary to the treasury, said the closure of the Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) sites was not based solely on cost-cutting measures but on how best to serve the population of the county and tackle tax evasion.

Mr Timms's remarks were made in the House of Commons last week during a debate called

by Yarmouth MP Tony Wright. The town faces losing 126 jobs as Havenbridge House closes next year.

HMRC restructuring will also see 76 posts being relocated from offices at Custom House at King's Lynn, Roseberry Court in Norwich and Dereham's Church Street when they are shut down.

It is thought the closures and moving of 202 workers to other offices will save the government at least £300,000. The move is part of a national scheme to close more than 200 offices and shed 25,000 jobs by 2011.

Mr Timms said the main reason for the restructuring was not cost cutting but the need to modernise the way the HMRC deals with the public, especially with increases in telephone and internet use.

Mr Timms said: "HMRC exists for taxpayers. It has to provide

its service in the most efficient way.

"The exercise is not about simply finding the cheapest offices in the country.

"The question for HMRC is how best can it organise its business to deal, for example, with the challenges of tax evasion? That is not about finding the cheapest possible office space in the country; that has not been a driving consideration.

"It (HRMC) also needs to plan

its office structure to suit its new business models."


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