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Nia Griffith MP, Labour’s Shadow Wales Minister has hit out at what she sees as the strongest indication yet that a future Conservative Government would close down the HMRC offices in Swansea. Alerted by the Branch President of the PCS Union West Wales HMRC Network, Steve Donoghue, from her Llanelli Constituency, Nia Griffith asked a parliamentary question about the future of the Swansea Tax Office. In her response, the Conservative Treasury Minister Andrea Leadsom said:

“HMRC has told staff that, it believes that Cardiff is the most suitable location for a future Regional Centre in Wales, since it is already the biggest HMRC location in the country. However, no firm decisions have yet been made on the precise location or timing of a new HMRC Regional Centre in Cardiff or the nature and timing of impacts on other HMRC locations in Wales including Swansea.”

Commenting on this parliamentary answer, Nia Griffith said:

“There is no doubt in my mind that this is a very strong indication that a future Conservative Government would close down the HMRC offices in Swansea. That would mean an inevitable loss of experienced staff, as staff at Swansea, many of whom have already transferred from offices in West Wales to Swansea, would find it very difficult, if not impossible, to transfer to Cardiff.  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 this Conservative – Lib-Dem Government from £31 billion in 2009/10 to £34 billion in 2012/13 – so we badly need to keep those 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 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.”