Mark raises concern about Tax Credit Office jobs in Preston

(April 27, 2011)

Mark has raised concerns with Minister for Welfare Reform, Lord Freud, about the potential job losses at the Preston Tax Credit Office when Tax Credits are replaced by Universal Credit in 2013.

Preston is home to the Tax Credit Office, which together with two other offices in Liverpool and Belfast, employs 4,100 staff to administer the current Tax Credit system.  Staff deal with exceptions in making or maintaining tax credit awards including appeals, complaint-handling, disputed overpayments and call backs on complex cases.  The Government are proposing to move people claiming benefits automatically onto the Universal Credit from 2013.  The reforms are expected to be set out in a White Paper later this year and put before Parliament in a Welfare Reform Bill next year.  

Mark raised his concerns directly to the Minister, he said: “I am concerned that this move to the Universal Credit could result in staff at Tax Credit Office losing their jobs. I do not want to see any job losses in Preston.”

Lord Freud, Minister for Welfare Reform responded: “We are still establishing how Universal Credit will be delivered and so I am sure you will appreciate that I am unable to say what the impact will be on staffing in HM Revenues and Customs at this early stage.”

Mark raised further concerns to the Minister:  He said: “I remain concerned that the roll out of the Universal Credit could impact on staffing levels at what is currently the Tax Credit Office, based in Preston.  Could you let me know what consideration has been given to consulting staff and the PCS Union, regarding changes that may impact on the Tax Credit Office.”  Mr Hendrick is currently awaiting a response to this enquiry.

 Peter Middleman, Regional Secretary of the Public & Commercial Services Union said:  "We are equally concerned about staffing and service levels in respect of implementation of Universal Credit.   As the Public Accounts Committee have pointed out, the HMRC track record on new IT projects is poor and we fear the public risk being short changed again if there is insufficient scrutiny of the process.  Similarly, while the UK is missing out on £120bn of evaded, avoided or uncollected tax there is no logic in cutting HMRC staff numbers, especially when those staff could be helping to cut the deficit".

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