Support for staff as tax office to close

The tax office at Marlborough House  is to close by 2018
The tax office at Marlborough House is to close by 2018

Around 50 staff will be affected when HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) close their Marlborough House office between 2017 and 2018.

HMRC last week announced the closure of 10 regional offices throughout Northern Ireland as part of a modernisation programme. The offices will be replaced by a new regional centre in Belfast employing between 1,300 and 1,600.

Jim Harra, director general for business tax, said one-to-one interviews would be held with all local staff, taking into account their personal circumstances, and the hope would be that the majority of people would be able to transfer to Belfast.

He said, “If they incur additional travel costs, these will be funded for up to five years.”

And he reassured those customers who need to speak to a tax adviser in person rather than use the online service, but who are unable to travel, that there will be a team of mobile advisers.

He explained, “For people who need enhanced support, we can go out to those people’s homes or visit them at another venue, such as a community centre.

“The mobile service has been in existence for over a year and is very successful, more so than the enquiry centres it replaced.”

He said the reorganisation is part of a modernisation programme which will give every taxpayer an online digital account

Mr Harra admitted that in the first quarter of this year HMRC’s customer service had not been as good as people might have expected - there had been complaints about customers not being able to get through on the phone lines and poor service - but he said service levels were “much better now”.

Lin Homer, HMRC’s chief executive, said, The new regional centre in Belfast will bring our staff together in more modern and cost-effective buildings in an area with lower rent.

“The changes will enable HMRC to give customers the modern services they now expect at a lower cost to the taxpayer.”