Benefits staff set to keep jobs for another two years after a planned closure has been put back
Union activists are celebrating after ensuring the HMRC office in Peterlee remains open for another two years despite threats of closure.
A 10-year Government modernisation plan to centralise the service into regional hubs has put the Emerald Court office in Peterlee at risk, but HMRC has now confirmed that the office will say open until 2022- 2023.
Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) announced in 2015 that all six tax offices in the region will close as part of a 10-year modernisation plan.
They said operations will then move to a single North East base in Longbenton outside Newcastle, starting from 2018-19 with remaining offices closing by 2024-25.
At the time they said the plans would affect 500 employees at Emerald Court in Peterlee, which was set to close in 2020-2021, and 3,249 workers at sites in Sunderland, Washington, Middlesbrough and Stockton.
A HMRC spokesperson said today: “HMRC is transforming into a more efficient, higher-skilled organisation offering modern digital services, through 13 regional centres.
“In 2015, HMRC’s locations strategy, included the decision to close Emerald Court, Peterlee in 2020-21.
"We now plan to keep Emerald Court open until 2022-23.
"This will give more of our colleagues the opportunity to stay working with us for longer, after which we will move to Benton Park View or Washington Transitional Site.”
HMRC said it keeps its accommodation requirements under constant review to meet the needs of its workforce plans.
It says it has already taken decisions which mean some offices will stay open for a little longer, and some will close earlier and we may do so again in the future.
The HMRC office in Stockton is still scheduled to close and those working there - as well as those due to move there soon from Middlesbrough - will be able to move to Peterlee as a stepping stone site - when their office closes in 2020- 2021.
HMRC is retaining the Washington Transitional Site until 2024-2025.
A spokesman for the Public and Commerical Services Union, PCS, said: "Over a 1,000 jobs are at stake across both sites (Peterlee and Stockton) with the union fighting tooth and nail to prevent job losses in a very deprived part of the country.
"PCS has consistently opposed the regionalisation programme and believes closing offices in local communities will mean many will not be able to relocate and ultimately lose their jobs."