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MSP speaks out over jobs blow for Wick

27th January 2016

HM Revenue and Customs has called time on 13 of its home-workers in and around Wick.

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP David Stewart said today the move was a devastating blow not only for those concerned but for a fragile community which relies on such jobs to bolster the local economy.

HMRC has launched a voluntary redundancy scheme for the workers because it is now focussing its centres on two large urban areas in Scotland.

It says this is because urban areas create many lines of business which can work more closely together and people can move between jobs and professions to build more rewarding and satisfying careers.

Mr Stewart said: The whole programme of centralisation is just devastating for areas like Wick which has fought over previous years to keep the local office open.

When the office was vacated in 2014, at least 13 people remained home working - even HMRC admits there were ‘clear benefits for colleagues in and around Wick. It now says that home-working does not fit in with its new location strategy and there is little prospect of the staff being able to travel to one of the new regional centres proposed in Edinburgh and Glasgow.
It is such a pity that Government departments cannot see that even saving a small number of jobs helps rural economies in areas such as Caithness. It also helps local businesses which need a face to face contact.

In November it was also announced that Inverness and Aberdeen offices of HMRC would close by 2018 and 2021 respectively.

Ian Murray MP, Labours Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, has contacted Labours Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, to discuss this issue and Labour will use every opportunity to raise the situation in Parliament.
Mr Stewart will also be contacting the PSC union.

These cuts will put HMRC under even more pressure at a time when more and more resources are needed to crack down on tax evasion and avoidance, added Mr Stewart.

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