HM Revenue and Customs proposals to cut the days the tax enquiry centre in Aberdeen will open, will drastically reduce frontline services, the Public and Commercial Services union warns.
The enquiry centre is currently open each weekday offering face to face tax advice but from May HMRC is proposing to reduce this to only 3 days a week. The PCS, which represents staff at the office, is concerned this will hit pensioners and those claiming tax credits the hardest as they are the centre’s most frequent callers.
They have also warned it will lead to more problems for people with enquiries caused by the PAYE computer system fiasco.
Mark Chapman, PCS Aberdeen & Inverness Revenue & Customs Branch Chair said.
“Enquiry centre users often travel miles to visit the office to sort out their tax problems. We are worried that when they get here, they will find it closed, and have to come back another day.
“We are also concerned that with opening times reduced, customers may have to wait some time for an appointment. Many of these people rely on tax credits or are pensioners and cannot afford to wait or spend more to get here. They will be inconvenienced by these plans.”
The enquiry centres also provide telephones and internet access. This saves people the cost of ringing from home and they feel more confident as local staff are available to give advice if needed.
HMRC aims to persuade more people to use the internet or telephone but many people still do not have access to the internet or do not feel comfortable using it to get advice about financial matters. Staffing has been reduced in HMRC contact centres and they are currently only able to answer less than 50% of calls.
PCS is urging people to email firstname.lastname@example.org to respond to HMRC’s consultation on the reduction of opening times.
– For more information contact Mark Chapman on 0798 447 9628
– The Public and Commercial Services union represents civil and public servants in central government. It has more than 300,000 members in over 200 departments and agencies, and in parts of government transferred to the private sector. PCS is the UK’s sixth largest union and is affiliated to the TUC. The general secretary is Mark Serwotka and the president is Janice Godrich
– Follow PCS on Twitter http://twitter.com/pcs_union