Tax protest at cuts to offices [South Wales Echo (UK)]
(South Wales Echo (UK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) STAFF working in HMRC enquiry centres have announced plans to protest against measures which they claim could harm elderly and vulnerable people in South Wales.
Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union members working at Ty Glas in Llanishen will take action this Thursday in an attempt to prevent the closure of offices where taxpayers get face-to-face advice.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) plans to close its 281 enquiry centres, meaning people will be obliged to use alternative internet or telephone services.
Branch secretary Margaret Davies said: "Rather than seeking to improve their customer service, HMRC is closing all of its local enquiry centres, penalising ordinary taxpayers who simply need help in filling out returns or getting advice."
She added: "It will threaten the jobs of highly qualified and dedicated staff, while heaping more pressure on the remaining workforce.
We are urging the department to keep these vital local offices open to the public."
According to the union, more than 1,300 staff provide tax advice and assistance at these offices, which are visited by more than 2.5 million people every year.
Union members have warned that the closures come as HMRC seeks to cut the budget in its personal taxation department, which could lead to the loss of 6,000 jobs.
Ms Davies added that the Labour Government promised in 2009 that all 281 local face-to-face offices would remain open.
HMRC's call centres have already come under criticism for not being able to meet call handling targets. On the tax credits deadline day on July 31, almost one in 10 callers were unable to get through and the PCS has warned that closing enquiry centres would put more of a burden on the service.
The union has also claimed that HMRC's savings estimate is widely exaggerated and that the closures would have a disproportionate impact on disabled people, migrant workers, the self-employed and older people.
The protest at Llanishen will form part of a week of demonstrations expected to take place across Britain this week.
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