TEN jobs are under threat at Coleraine’s HMRC offices, Fern House, located at Adelaide Avenue, just off the Lodge Road.
Last week, HMRC announced that they would be closing all of their Enquiry Offices as they ‘no longer meet the needs’ of their customers. This will affect three staff members in Coleraine.
In addition to this, the organisation also launched a voluntary exit scheme for around 500 Administrative Assistant grade staff, in 70 locations, including seven Administrative Assistants in Coleraine.
In a statement, an HMRC spokesperson explained: “HMRC research shows that the current Enquiry Centres no longer meet the needs of our customers. Enquiry Centres themselves are spread unevenly across the UK in terms of population served, and many of the estimated 1.5 million customers who need extra help do not live near one, which means they face extra costs to get there, or do not get the help they need.
“Because of this, some customers have sought help from the voluntary and community sector, whilst others have turned to family and friends for help.
HMRC is discussing the impact of these changes with staff in Enquiry Centres and unions, and will do everything possible to redeploy Enquiry Centre staff within HMRC, or help them to find another role in the Civil Service.”
The three Coleraine staff affected by the Enquiry Office closure have three options - working in the new service; applying for a voluntary exit or joining the redeployment pool and seeking another job either within HMRC or in another government department.
In relation to the additional voluntary exit scheme, the statement stated: “The increasing automation of clerical processes means that there is now much less work than there used to be for HMRC’s administrative assistants.
“HMRC is therefore offering voluntary exits to 500 staff at administrative assistant grade. This is part of a long-term trend to ensure that HMRC’s workforce and estate fits the needs of the business, and that the UK’s tax system is managed cost effectively.”
DUP MLA Adrian McQuillan said he was ‘disappointed’ by the news, and said that it was just ‘another blow for the Coleraine area’.
Independent MLA David McClarty added: “ My colleague, councillor Claire Sugden and I are disappointed to learn of the closure of HMRC Coleraine Enquiry Office. We are not surprised by this decision. Jobs within HMRC Coleraine Enquiry Office have steadily declined over the years, and this news is inevitable.
“We very much sympathise with those who have lost their jobs and appeal to HMRC to prioritise arrangements to ensure employees are supported in finding an alternative position within or outside the organisation.
“We are just weary to learn of more job losses in Coleraine.”