Ritchie takes fight to save Newry jobs to Westminster
SDLP MP for South Down, Margaret Ritchie will use her House of Commons Adjournment Debate tonight to demand that UK government carry out an immediate review of the planned closure of the HMRC Centre in Newry.
Speaking to Newry Times ahead of tonight’s debate in Westminster Ritchie said, “The shock announcement that every member of staff at the Newry centre is being offered an exit package before any official confirmation of the closures shows the UK Treasury is trying to close this office by stealth.
“It is deeply unfair to create such uncertainty over the future of the centre while offering staff an exit package. It is a disgrace that there has been no Equality Impact Assessment, no consultation with local Ministers and no engagement with local stakeholders and staff that would be expected in similar cases.
“I will be demanding that the Treasury carry out an immediate review of this decision that fully takes into consideration the economic impact this will have across the local area.
“Newry and the surrounding area has been identified by the Regional Development Strategy as having enormous potential in developing the North-South economy through its position on the Dublin – Belfast corridor and excellent work has been done to build private sector capacity.
“However, removing such a vital public service employer will not only hurt those staff who lose their jobs but will undermine the whole local economy, including the private sector, as it begins to emerge from the shadow of the financial crisis,” the SDLP MP insisted.
“The stripping away of face-to-face and personal tax services at a time of such drastic changes to the tax and benefit system will also be particularly damaging for many people living in more isolated rural locations, particularly the elderly, disabled and vulnerable.
“These rural areas already lack infrastructure such as broadband provision and there are real doubts that the government’s reform agenda will meet their needs, especially with complex cases.
“The underhand closure of these HMRC centres is a personal tragedy for all those who are threatened with losing their job and it represents a severe threat to the entire local economy. It is not too late for the UK Treasury to reassess this matter and retain this vital service in the Newry area.
Ritchie added, “At a time when the Treasury admits to losing out on over £100 billion through tax avoidance and evasion they should be supporting and developing this public service rather than pulling the rug from under it.”
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