Thirty jobs go as King’s Lynn’s HMRC office closes

PUBLISHED: 12:46 16 October 2014 | UPDATED: 12:57 16 October 2014

King's Lynn HMRC office which is closing with the loss of 30 jobs. Picture: Chris Bishop

King's Lynn HMRC office which is closing with the loss of 30 jobs. Picture: Chris Bishop

Archant

HM Revenue and Customs is closing its office in King’s Lynn with the loss of 30 jobs, officials confirmed today.

Four centuries of history

The closure will leave Lynn without a revenue office of one kind or another for the first time in almost 400 years.

The port’s first Custom House was built in 1620, off the Tuesday Market Place.

Its second - which became a globally-important landmark designed by Henry Bell - followed on the banks of the Purfleet, in 1683.

Medieval custom officers and tax collectors made sure the crown got its share of the proceeds as Lynn grew into Britain’s third most important port.

They also made the occasional foray against the smugglers who operated up the coast, using the maze of marsh creeks and their remote harbours to land their booty without paying duty.

Until its front counter closed, staff in its 21st Century successor dealt with tax queries from the self employed and small businesses.

HM Revenue and Customs said the office would close by December 2015.

The PCS union said staff were “very upset” after being told the news by managers this morning.

It claims there is no there is no economic case for the closures, but HMRC was in the process of shutting all offices with less than 1,000 staff and move its operations to giant sites in Scotland, Northern England and the Midlands.

Harvey Crane of PCS said “This news will come as a devastating blow to our members in this office. We are concerned that there is no real economic or business justification for these changes.

“There are also no nearby offices where staff can move to so the situation is incredibly bleak. The PCS union which represents the staff in the office is campaigning to keep all local offices like Kings Lynn open.

“As well as the loss of local jobs and the impact this will have in Kings Lynn we are also concerned at the loss of local knowledge and that the public no longer have access to HMRC staff in the town. We believe that the public deserve face to face contact and help on tax issues. “

The office, off County Court Road, has been closed to the public since June, when HMRC announced counter services would be replaced by call centres.

In a statement, HM Revenue and Customs said: “In line with our Spending Review settlements, HMRC is continuing to reduce in size, to become more highly-skilled and to operate from fewer locations. We are also changing the way we work to better meet the rising expectations of our customers and help them ensure they get things right.

“Today, we have confirmed the date of 14 office closures, including Vancouver House in King’s Lynn, which we announced to staff in June after sharing the likelihood of closure last autumn, and announced further reductions in the number of administrative roles, as a result of increased automation and digitisation.

“The announcements are absolutely no reflection on the contribution and commitment of the people who are affected, but are a result of our need to become more efficient and to live within our financial constraints.

“We have put a package of support and career guidance in place for affected staff, who were given the news by managers in face-to-face meetings. We remain committed to avoiding compulsory redundancies wherever possible, but as the scope for redeployment reduces, it will become increasingly difficult to avoid this.”

Union leaders hope to meet MP Henry Bellingham to discuss the closure.

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