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No risk to city jobs

HM Revenue and Customs have quashed fears that145 jobs are to be lost at their Newry offices. A spokesperson said: “HMRC has been drawing up plans to meet its 2010 Spending Review settlement and in June we made and announcement to staff to share a first look at the size and shape of the department for 2015 and beyond. Out plans are not yet complete but one thing we could say with certainty at that stage wass that the department would definitely be remaining at 16 key locations until at least 2020. At that time we made it clear that this should not be interpreted to mean that offices outside of those locations were to close or that we could guarantee the future of any office including all of those within the key 16 towns and cities. Since then our plans have developed and in our update on the 14th September we could add to those 16 centres 48 other offices where we will maintain a presence for the foreseeable future and at least until 2015. In the same announcement we identified 8 new office closure proposals we are considering for 2013/14. Custom house in Newry is not among them and the 145 jobs there have not been put at risk. We are now looking carefully at the department’s business requirements and will make an announcement about the remaining sites in January 2012. Some offices will be included in the proposed building closures for 2014/15 while others will be retained until at least 2015. Conor Murphy MP MLA for Newry Armagh haws said that while he was relieved that it appears the Carnbane Way HMRC office will rremain open , confusion and fear still remains. “I received information from staff at the Carnbane HMRC office which indicated that the office maybe be earmarked for closure. The correspondence received by HMRC staff was ambiguous and it did not list the Carnbane office on the list of offices to be retained,” he said. “On receipt of this information I made enquiries directly to the HMRC and I have since received an assurance which states that  while 8 offices have been identified for closure in 2013/14 the Carnbane office is not among them and the 145 jobs in this office are safe. While I welcome this news it appears to directly contradict with the information the staff are being presented with. I urge HMRC to clarify their position regarding the office inn Carnbane Way and give assurances that these jobs will not be lost. SDLP Newry and Armagh MLA Dominic Bradley also expressed concern at the uncertainty surrounding customs staff in Newry following an announcement from HMRC that Newry is not on a list of key locations in its restructuring up to 2020. Mr Bradley and SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie have requested a meeting with relevant Treasury Minister David Gauke. “HMRC has confirmed to staff that it will keep offices at 16 key locations and the Newry office is not on its list. This is a worrying development in relation to the future of the Customs facility at Carnbane which is the CIS processing centre for the UK and would endanger the future of the remaining 134 staff, ” Mr Bradley said. There is clearly confusion regarding the future of the Newry office and further clarification is need to give peace of mind to the staff. The latest announcement has done nothing to clear matters. There is a high level of competence and expertise with in the HMRC staff in Newry. The HMRC Enquiries Office has already suffered a reduction in opening hours. The NI Executive has a policy of decentralisation of jobs and the British government should reflect that policy not act contrary to it. These jobs contribute greatly to the local economy and would not easily be replaced.” SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie added: “I have made representations on behalf of the Newry HMRC office at Westminster and have requested a meeting with the Treasury Minister David Gauke on this issue.”


Newry Reporter

21st September 2011