HMRC announced its future location strategy on 12 November. As I have previously stated, delivering that strategy will help HMRC to deliver more for less and reduce its estate costs by £100 million per year by 2025. Both HMRC and I have received a number of representations from interested parties, most recently from my hon. Friends the Members for Rochford and Southend East (James Duddridge) and for Southend West (Sir David Amess).
Following my hon. Friend’s meeting with me and my hon. Friend the Member for Rochford and Southend East (James Duddridge), will he reflect further on the points made about Southend becoming a regional centre? Whatever changes are made in the future, will he ensure that the hard-working, dedicated and loyal staff of Alexander House are treated well?
Of course, my hon. Friend made his representations in a robust and forthright way in our meeting yesterday. I am sure that HMRC will be reflecting on that. Assuming that staff are relocated from Southend to Stratford, they will be compensated for their additional transport costs for up to three years and will benefit from London weighting, given that they will have moved to Stratford.
At the moment, call handling is at a higher level than it has been for many years. It was certainly the case that in spring of last year call handling standards were not at an acceptable level, but HMRC has made significant improvements and I hope it will continue to make progress.