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Tax centre jobs under threat in Brighton, Bognor, Chichester, Crawley, Eastbourne, Hastings, Haywards Heath, Horsham, Lewes and Worthing
More than 50 jobs are under threat following Government proposals to shut down every tax enquiry centre in the country.
HM Revenue and Customs has opened a consultation to close all 281 tax enquiry centres, including ten in Sussex.
The under-threat centres in Bognor, Brighton, Chichester, Crawley, Eastbourne, Hastings, Haywards Heath, Horsham, Lewes and Worthing currently employ 51 people who give face-to-face tax advice.
It is proposed to close the centres and replace them with a telephone service. It is claimed the move will save customers almost £12 million a year in lost time and travel costs and slash running costs by more than £13 million a year.
The process will include a five-month pilot of the new telephone-based service in the north-east of England starting in June, which will see 13 enquiry centres closed.
However, critics of the move argue that the closure plans risk worsening an already “disgraceful” phone help service.
Margaret Hodge, the Labour MP who chairs the Commons public accounts committee, said the closures would “undoubtedly” put even more pressure on phonelines which have been condemned for costing callers £136 million a year through delays in answering calls.
She said: “Just how the department is going to improve standards of customer service, given the prospect of its having fewer staff and receiving a higher volume of calls, is open to question.”
Lin Homer, HMRC chief executive, said: “We will give a more specialised phone service for customers whose affairs can be resolved over the telephone, and face-to-face help to those who need it, visiting them at a place convenient to them.”
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