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Revenue and Customs: Northern Ireland

Volume 498: debated on Tuesday 27 October 2009

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has obtained advice from the Equality Commission of Northern Ireland to assist in ensuring that the various religious communities are more accurately represented among those commencing employment in HMRC in Northern Ireland. (295472)

[holding answer 26 October 2009]: HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is aware that its staff in post figures do not reflect the economically active population of Northern Ireland in regard to community background. These figures show that the Protestant community is under-represented within HMRC’s work force. In light of this, the Department has sought both the advice and agreement of the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland (the Commission) in the drafting of the Department’s 2009 Northern Ireland Affirmative Action Plan.

The plan, recently agreed by the Commission, aims to ensure fair participation of all sections of the community in HMRC’s work force through fair and transparent employment practices and a range of outreach measures, including:

All vacancies for employment are advertised widely, ensuring that newspapers read mainly by the Protestant community are included.

Job advertisements for all posts will continue to include a statement welcoming applications from the Protestant community.

Where jobs and benefits offices are used, advertisements include a welcoming statement for members of the Protestant community and are circulated to other offices in the catchment area. The response to each such request is monitored.

We have links with schools from the Protestant community in an effort to attract applicants from that community and to offer work experience to trainees.

The Department continues to benefit from the involvement of the Commission in the implementation and review of the action plan, and will report on progress to the Commission in January 2010.