As I noted on Saturday
, yesterday HMRC made a significant announcement about office closures etc.
The "success" of the restructuring depends on the successful automation ("digital transformation" to use a well worn phrase) of HMRC's processes, if this fails then HMRC will be in the shit.
My thanks to a loyal reader who forwarded me a copy of Lin Homer's message to HMRC staff:
Message from Lin Homer: Workforce changes
16 October 2014
This morning, we talked to colleagues across HMRC about some important changes we need to make, and what this means for them.
Our first priority has been to ensure that the people who are affected heard from us directly. Now we know that has happened, I want to tell you about what we’re planning, and what will happen next.
As you know, as a Department we are becoming smaller and are increasingly concentrating our work on large sites in the UK’s urban centres.
We are also changing the way we do that work, with far greater emphasis on automation and digital services.
The announcements we’re making today reflect that transformation. We are being, and will continue to be, open and honest about our thinking, and what the future is likely to hold.
There is a lot to share, so I’m going to take each announcement in turn. Q&As are available through links at the end of this message.
1. Consultation on closure dates for 14 offices
Last November, we explained that 14 of our offices did not feature in our medium to long-term plans, and that it was likely that all 14 would close.
On 5 June this year we launched a two-month consultation on proposed closure dates for these offices. We considered all of the information very carefully, and we want to thank everyone who responded. Although we recognise the impact on individuals working in these offices, none of the responses suggested that changing the date of closure would reduce that impact.
As a result, we have decided to close all 14 of the offices on the dates originally planned. This means that 453 people will join the redeployment pool now, and we will do our best to help them to find new roles. However, we have also made it clear that we believe opportunities will be limited, and so in January we will declare those who have not found new roles surplus, and invite them to apply for voluntary redundancy.
2. People working in AA roles in PT Operations
We have made enormous changes to the way in which we deliver our online and digital services in recent years. As a result, there has been a huge reduction in the work traditionally done by people working at AA grade, especially in the areas of PAYE and Self Assessment.
We are also, as you probably know, looking to make major reductions in the amount of post we send out and receive. In July this year, we started scanning mail that comes into PT Operations, removing the need to sort, catalogue and redirect it by hand.
By the end of this year, we plan to have completed the roll-out of mail scanning to cover all PT Operations post, unless it isn’t suitable for digitisation – more detail on what we plan to do with that post can be found below.
Because of these changes, we are now inviting approximately 690 people working at AA grade in PT Operations roles to consider applying for a voluntary exit.
3. ESS Regional Post Rooms
The transformation of the way we handle post also means change for our people in Regional Post Rooms.
Back in June, we announced the closure of our Cardiff and Bootle Regional Post Rooms and invited the 85 people at AA grade there to apply for voluntary redundancy. We said at that time that it was likely that the remaining three post rooms would also close.
Today, we are confirming the closure of the Regional Post Rooms in Cumbernauld, Shipley and Newcastle, on 31 March 2015.
In Cumbernauld and Shipley, we are placing eight people working at O and AO grade in both post rooms into the redeployment pool; again, we will do our best to find them new roles. We think that the chances of finding new roles for the 46 AA grade people working there are more limited, so we are inviting them to apply for voluntary redundancy.
In Newcastle, we will be opening a new Central Mail Unit on the site of the former post room in Benton Park View. This new unit will deal with all of the post received across HMRC that isn’t suitable for scanning, and will also handle outgoing mail until the introduction of our new Centralised Print Service. We’re planning to use the expertise of the staff in the current post room, who will all transfer into the new unit.
4. Wellesley House, Stockport
Earlier this year, we were given notice by DWP to vacate Wellesley House, Stockport by the end of March 2015. Since then, we have looked at where we need to be based in that area, and have done everything we can to find new locations for the 107 people working there.
Forty people who are outside of Reasonable Daily Travel of other locations are still looking for new roles. We will keep trying to redeploy them, but we are also inviting them all to apply for a voluntary exit package.
5. Redeployment pool review
As I said above, we do everything we can to find suitable new roles for people whose work is reducing or coming to an end. However, as HMRC gets smaller, this is getting harder.
We review the redeployment pool regularly throughout the year and identify people who cannot be easily redeployed. We will be contacting people who we believe will find it difficult to obtain new roles by the end of this month, and inviting them to apply for either a voluntary exit or voluntary redundancy.
6. Wingfield House, Portsmouth
Since 2012, we’ve been clear that we plan to close Wingfield House, Portsmouth, by 31 March 2015. This is because we thought that all HMRC people working in Portsmouth would be able to fit into Lynx House by that date.
We now know that the figures have changed, so we’ve decided to close five floors of Wingfield House and transfer 300 people to Lynx House by 30 October 2015. We’re keeping on two floors in Wingfield House, so 100 people will stay there for the time being.
As I said above, I know that these announcements mean that some of our colleagues are facing challenging and important choices.
I want to make it very clear that the decisions are not a reflection on them or the quality of their work: I am grateful to all of them for their hard work and their commitment to HMRC and our customers.
We are committed to treating everyone affected sensitively and fairly, and will give them as much support as we can to ensure they can make informed decisions about their futures. Where people want to try to find a new role in HMRC, we will give them priority status for suitable vacancies through the redeployment pool. For people whose type of work is reducing or coming to an end, we are inviting them to apply for either voluntary exit or voluntary redundancy, with a good compensation package. We will also provide practical support and advice on finding a new role outside HMRC.
I recognise that these are not easy messages, but each one is part of the overall transformation of HMRC – into a Department able to cope with the demands facing us in the future.
Tax does have to be taxing.
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