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Warning over office closures

PUBLISHED: 15:22 09 July 2008 | UPDATED: 14:37 07 July 2010

Part-time workers and people on low incomes are to be hit the worst if proposals to shut rural and city centre tax offices go ahead, it has been warned.

Part-time workers and people on low incomes are to be hit the worst if proposals to shut rural and city centre tax offices go ahead, it has been warned.

HM Revenues and Customs (HMRC) wants to close tax offices in Dereham and Yarmouth, one of three offices in Norwich and another in King's Lynn, and cut staff numbers to 350

full-time equivalent by 2011 - from 555 in 2006.

It started a consultation on the proposals last month and says the public would still have someone they could go and see in towns losing their only tax office.

But Lee Sutton, branch secretary for the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), said: “It is a hatchet job. Bottom line is customers will find the service awful and it is a case of breaking the emergency glass for many people. They will not know about this until they need it.

“The service in Dereham is good because you have a small office where everyone works together and there is always someone who knows about everything. It is very much a community there.

“If this goes ahead you will turn up and be asked to get an appointment and come back or be advised to call a helpline.

“There is a higher percentage of tax credit customers in Yarmouth and Dereham - it is these low income families that need that face to face help.”

Tax credit inquiries amount to 24 and 28pc of total inquiries at Yarmouth and Dereham compared to 13pc in Norwich, figures from HMRC show.

Many staff at Yarmouth and Dereham were predominantly part-time with child care arrangements, and if the changes went ahead and they were faced with relocating to Norwich, they would have to look for another job, said Mr Sutton.

HMRC has said the review has come about because of the merger of the former Inland Revenue and HM Customs and Excise government departments creating more

office space than it needs.

It would save £790,000 and see the Rose Court in Norwich, Church Street in Dereham, Haverbridge House in Yarmouth and Customs House in Lynn offices close.

Mary Hay, HMRC director responsible

for the review, said: “By consolidating work in fewer locations, HMRC will be able to work more efficiently and so improve customer service as well as providing better work for money.”

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