Speaking up about the proposed closure of HMRC offices in Wales, Nia Griffith MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Wales said:
“This represents a major loss of quality jobs in Porthmadog, Wrexham and Swansea. For all the Tories’ feigned interest in the North, the reality is that they are all too quick to slash jobs and centralise offices in Cardiff, with no regard for the impact on the local economy. They know perfectly well that they will lose experienced staff, as there is no way that the majority of staff in Porthmadog or Wrexham would be able to transfer to Liverpool or Cardiff, and even those in Swansea will find it difficult or impossible, as many of them have already transferred from offices further west. We also need to see figures about the buildings. Replacing office space in less expensive areas with offices in Central Cardiff does not seem to me to be likely to save money.
The latest available figures show that HMRC’s calculation of the ‘tax gap’ – the difference between how much tax should be collected and how much actually is collected – has risen under the Conservative – Lib-Dem Government from £31 billion in 2009/10 to £34 billion in 2013/14 so we badly need to keep experienced staff. As soon as we legislate to close tax loopholes, there is a whole industry out there, looking at ways to get round the rules, so HMRC needs to be properly resourced with experienced staff to tackle aggressive tax avoidance. It is always galling to think that there is anyone, particularly big companies, wriggling out of their tax responsibilities, but all the more so at a time when massive cuts mean local councillors are having to make very distressing decisions about local services.”