Bradley expresses disbelief at planned closure of local tax centres
SDLP MLA for Newry and Armagh and party finance spokesperson Dominic Bradley has said that the announcement by HM Revenue & Customs last Thursday that it is planning to close all Enquiry Centres by March 2014 is totally unacceptable.
Speaking to Newry Times, Bradley said the proposal to close the Tax Enquiry Centre in Newry is being driven purely by an ‘unhealthy appetite’ to make cost savings at the expense of front line services.
“We have witnessed the closure of the Tax Office previously located in Downshire House on Merchants Quay, we have witnessed the reduction of the number of days the Enquiry Office is opened to three days per week and we have seen a further reduction in the service by reducing the hours on which it is open.
“The closure of this facility will cut off vital personal support for pensioners, migrant workers, and disabled people including those with learning disabilities. Margaret Ritchie and I have been to Westminster to discuss the issue with the Treasury Office Minister and to express the opposition of the community to such a move.
Bradley continued, “I understand that HMRC plan to shift all tax advice and enquiry work into call centres, with the public only being offered face to face advice in very limited circumstances. Only last December the National Audit Office reported that some 20 million calls went unanswered.
“This approach has failed time and time again and it beggars belief that they want to push more people towards using a failed system. People do not like call centres and have time and again expressed their opinions.
He added, “I am not interested in clever PR rhetoric, this is a public service that should be provided in a manner that is acceptable to the end user. Margaret Ritchie and I will continue to make representations to help ensure that the services provided in the Newry office are retained.”
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