‘Executive must fight to retain 134 Newry jobs’ – Bradley
Newry and Armagh MLA Dominic Bradley has challenged the UK Treasury to use its HMRC offices in Newry, Derry and Enniskillen for cross-border co-operation on taxation issues rather than working ‘de facto’ to close them.
Bradley was speaking today as the SDLP met with dozens of HMRC staff.
The assemblyman, later in the Assembly, tabled a motion calling on the Executive to use its influence to retain hundreds of much needed HMRC jobs in the North.
He dismissed the Treasury’s claim it is not closing down the HMRC centres in Newry, Enniskillen, and Derry, and instead claimed the voluntary exits being offered to staff amount to a “de facto closure”.
Bradley said: “The HMRC says it is centralising to the larger urban areas; and say Belfast will be the eventual single centre for Northern Ireland. It may be Newry, Enniskillen and Derry today but Craigavon, Ballymena and other centres tomorrow.
“David Gauke, the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, makes it look as if HMRC is very civilised in inviting people to participate in an exit scheme as if it were some benign offer to improve their lives beyond belief when, in fact, it is the total opposite.
“It is an invitation to become unemployed, an invitation to seek another job during economic slump, an invitation to face years without the prospect of a job,” the SDLP MLA insisted.
“These exit offers are a clear statement of intent and the closure of the sites, which the Treasury has seemingly made inevitable, will almost certainly increase the pressure on staff to accept the terms on offer but, having met with the staff in Newry on several occasions, I can say their will is strong and they will not be enticed into unemployment.
“What the Minister and the HMRC portray as generosity towards the staff is nothing more than a means of side stepping their obligations under the equality legislation here.”
Bradley said the Treasury should re-visit their decision, complete an equality impact assessment and conduct a proper consultation.
“Initially, we were led to believe the Newry centre would be retained and would assume further responsibility for some cross-border issues, including compliance and tax co-operation with Irish authorities.
“Where better to locate cross-border taxation co-operation centres than Newry, Enniskillen, and Derry in the context of the development of north-south business links?
Bradley added, “The Executive, especially at the highest levels, must use all the influence they can muster to help ensure that these important and much needed jobs are retained here.”
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