My thanks to a loyal reader. who has given me a heads up that on Thursday 12th Nov at 11am the HMRC call centres will fall silent.
All calls in will be shut off for an hour, while local managers deliver a simultaneous message to all HMRC staff about further redundancies.
Here is Lin Homer's message as posted on the HMRC intranet:
Message from Lin: Thursday's announcements
On Thursday, we will be announcing the next step in Building our Future, when we make simultaneous face-to-face announcements in every HMRC office about our future locations.
I want to emphasise that what we’re planning is absolutely necessary to ensure that HMRC modernises, both in what we do and in how we do it. We’ll be able to deliver better public services, and better careers for our people, at lower cost for the taxpayer.
This isn’t just about bricks and mortar - it’s an opportunity to invest in our workforce and your skills, so we’re ready to face the challenges that will come five, ten and even 20 years down the road. And because of the way our estates contract works, we’ll lose this opportunity for at least 15 years if we don’t act now.
There will be a lot to absorb on the day, so I want to provide some information ahead of the announcements which I hope will help to explain what is happening.
Why we are doing this
As we have said in Building our Future, our aim is to bring you together in big, modern Regional Centres, equipped with the digital infrastructure and training facilities we need to make HMRC an even more highly-skilled organisation, fit for the demands of the 21st century.
We are committing to Regional Centres serving every region and nation in the UK, with skilled and varied jobs and development opportunities, while also ensuring that jobs are spread throughout the UK.
At present, some 60,000 of us are scattered throughout 170 offices across the country, many of which are a legacy of the 1960s and 1970s. These range in size from sites of around 6,000 full time equivalent roles at one end of the scale, to fewer than ten at the other.
The fact is that we have too many expensive, isolated and outdated offices, and we are spread too thinly across the country. This makes it difficult for us to collaborate, modernise our ways of working, provide the types of facilities you have a right to expect and to invest in our digital infrastructure.
Bringing us together in Regional Centres will change that, and it will enable people to develop careers up to senior levels, as well as support the growth of specialist teams with links to local universities.
We expect the majority of you to be working in a Regional Centre by the time we complete the transition which, as William said in his update in September, will take ten years or more. Although some of us will start seeing changes much sooner than that - beginning next year.
What happens on Thursday
On Thursday, managers will gather teams and groups together – in open-plan areas, meeting rooms or larger spaces – to tell you what our plans are for Regional Centres, and what the implications are for your office.
The managers making announcements are your local managers, and they will be supported by senior leaders and by HR representatives, who will help to answer the immediate questions that you might have.
This will be supplemented on Thursday with the following information to be
published on the intranet:
•a Newsroom announcement about our plans nationally
•detailed information on the plans for each region, with short presentations showing what is happening and when
•in-depth information on how we will manage the transition over the next ten years, including Q&A on a range of HR policy and likely questions that you'll want to know answers to.
We will also have HR support, although the impacts on any individual may be very personal and will be addressed through one-to-ones with your manager ahead of any changes directly affecting you – as is the standard practice for all workforce announcements.
What we will be announcing
What we are announcing on Thursday – as we promised we would – is the next step of our transformation. We’ll set out our long-term plans for Regional Centres, and the detail of what it means for every office in HMRC. We will be telling you which cities we have chosen for Regional Centres, but generally not the precise location, since in most cases we still have to secure the property.
We will also be setting out the timeline for how offices are affected. The process of moving to new Regional Centres will begin in 2016, although we do not intend to close any offices in 2016 that haven't already been announced.
In fact, we will give at least a year's notice of any office closures, and for some people this could be five to ten years away. When we announce our formal intention to close an office, as we always do we'll hold formal consultations involving you and the Departmental Trade Unions.
In short, we will give you as much information – and advance notice – as possible to help you to understand how our plans affect you and what your choices are.
How we will manage the transition
How we make these changes is as important as what they are. So, just as we set out a number of principles for how we would select Regional Centre locations, we have also agreed a set of principles for how we will manage the transition and the impacts on you.
•We will minimise job losses by keeping as many people as possible and expect people to travel or do different work
•While we need to continue to become smaller, we will minimise redundancies wherever possible
•We will keep a limited number of Transitional Sites, which will enable some people to work there for between five and ten years. Where we can, we will move people to offices that are staying open longer
•We will consider everyone’s individual circumstances and take them properly into account when making individual decisions through one-to-ones that will cover individuals’ opportunities, choices and careers
•We will be honest, tell you as soon as we can and give you as much notice as possible to help you to consider your own choices and make your own plans.
We have established Regional Implementation Groups, led by a local senior leader, to support the process. These will seek to ensure that your thoughts on local issues and concerns are heard and understood as we develop our detailed implementation plans.
We want to tap into your local knowledge to make sure that we’ve considered everything that we need to, whether it’s travel options or ways of working. We’ll also be asking for your view on how we can best support you and your colleagues through these changes.
Finally, I want to repeat that what we are planning is absolutely necessary to ensure that HMRC modernises, both in what we do and in how we do it, so that we can both deliver better careers for our people and better public services.
Creating modern Regional Centres, with a mix of professions, operations and corporate services, will enable people to build careers up to SCS level, without having to move around the country to get experience and get a promotion. And they will be better places to work than much of our current estate, which we all know isn’t up to scratch.
Thursday’s announcements will be a big event for everyone, and we know that for some it will be difficult – including local managers making the announcements. There will be a lot to take in, and I want to assure you that there will be a lot of time to take it in. We will give you as much information and support as we can – not just on Thursday, but in the days, weeks, months and years that follow.
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