Chamber backs Council in HMRC site revamp delay

West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce has joined forces with Bradford Council in calling for the city’s HMRC office to remain open permanently. HMRC has announced it is delaying the closure of offices in Yorkshire and Sunderland to cope with its increased headcount. The tax collection department’s Centenary Court offices in Bradford – where 840 full time staff currently work – had been due to close in the 2020-21 financial year, with staff moving to HMRC’s new Leeds Regional Centre as part of the hubs programme. Now HMRC has said that the base will remain open until 2027 and could actually see its headcount rise as it becomes a “transitional site”, with space available for staff who could move from its Shipley office, which is also set to close under 2015’s hubs programme. HMRC has said the Bradford and Washington closure date extensions were driven by the fact that the department had a bigger workforce – now amounting to some 60,000 full-time-equivalent staff – than had been anticipated in 2015. “While we remain committed to the overall strategy of moving to regional centres, we always knew that in a programme of this size and duration our plans would need to remain flexible to help us meet new challenges,” a spokesman said. Keeping Washington and Bradford open would also allow staff who could not move to the new regional centres to stay working for the department for longer. Bradford Council leader, Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, told the Telegraph and Argus newspaper: “Bradford is a bigger city than Liverpool, Newcastle and Bristol and has a large, young workforce.  It is, therefore, just common sense that Government should change their mind on this issue. We’ll now be lobbying for Government to make this decision permanent.” The Chamber added: “These jobs are needed in the city and, while we appreciate that organisations need to sometimes restructure and change according to operational requirements, there is a strong argument around devolution and decentralisation for strengthening all our towns and cities to support growth across the North.”

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