Labour MPs call for Cosham tax office to be saved from closure

A SENIOR Labour MP visited a Portsmouth tax office amid concerns for how its impending closure will affect workers and residents.

Shadow treasury secretary Anneliese Dodds today met Portsmouth South MP and councillor Stephen Morgan at Lynx House in Cosham to talk with employees and union representatives.

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan and shadow treasury minister Anneliese Dodds visited HMRC workers in Portsmouth, pictured outside Lynx House in Cosham Picture: Sarah Standing (180724-5641)

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan and shadow treasury minister Anneliese Dodds visited HMRC workers in Portsmouth, pictured outside Lynx House in Cosham Picture: Sarah Standing (180724-5641)

As part of a programme known as 'Building our Future' HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) offices across the country are due be closed and concentrated into regional hubs.

One Portsmouth tax office, Wingfield House was shut in 2015 with Lynx House scheduled to close by 2026. It is thought around 900 jobs will be affected.

But Ms Dodds believed closing the Cosham site would be unacceptable. She said: 'The process needs to be reviewed and that's what I am calling for.

'What we are finding is a lot of  employees just can't move to the new hubs. Currently it sounds as if London and Wales will have hubs. People can't be expected to commute that far.

'This is bad for HMRC too. The people here have got a lot of expertise and experience. All that will be lost.

'It is a particularly big problem for us in the south with Brexit looming as we might have a totally new customs system.'

Mr Morgan agreed. 'This is an issue that a number of my constituents have raised with me and that is why I have really welcomed Anneliese coming here to shine a spotlight on what might happen,' he said.

'HMRC used to have a big presence in the city and all that has changed in the last few years.

'And then there is the uncertainty of Brexit. Is this really the right time to be doing something like this?'

Their concerns were met by Patrick Smyth, a local Public and Commercial Services (PCS) representative. Mr Smyth who has been campaigning against the hubs since November 2015, said: 'We have got about 900 members of staff. We have got staff coming in from all over, from Southampton and Horsham.

'The teams here collect tens of millions of pounds in compliance. We have the needs enhanced support team that help more vulnerable taxpayers. How can that be done from an office miles away?

'They are here to make sure that people pay the right amount of tax. That will be a lot harder if they're based in London.'