My right honourable friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Stephen Timms) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
Today HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is publishing the last in a series of decisions about its future office structure. These latest decisions affect HMRC staff in offices outside its urban centres in the east, north-west, south-west, Yorkshire and the Humber, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
HMRC's regional review programme, which began in 2006, has been a massive and complex task. When HMRC was created in April 2005 from the Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise it had 105,000 staff and two separate office networks, with a total of 590 office buildings in well over 300 locations.
Throughout the review programme HMRC has consulted on its proposals with staff, trade unions and key external stakeholders, including MPs, to ensure that no relevant factors were overlooked during the decision-making process.
These have not been easy decisions. However, the overriding consideration has to be the department's need to address new and challenging customer demands by restructuring its business and estate in the most effective and efficient way possible.
Inquiry centre services, where customers can get face-to-face advice, will continue to be provided at or near their current location.
HMRC plans to withdraw from locations between now and 2011-12 as circumstances allow and at a pace which enables it to maintain and improve customer services.
Details of the decisions, impact assessments and equality impact assessments will be published on the HMRC website today and MPs will receive e-mail confirmation of decisions relevant to their constituency, along with copies of related assessments.