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HMRC staff strike over job cuts


11:22am 25th June 2012

Up to 12,000 revenue staff in the north east and Cumbria are set to join the strike on Monday (25) over massive cuts that will leave the department unable to collect avoided or evaded tax the UK economy badly if the economy is to recover from recession.

The industrial action in all HM Revenue and Customs offices in the UK is over the government's plan to axe a further 10,000 HMRC jobs, on top of 30,000 that have gone since the department was formed in 2005.

It will mean face to face tax offices will be closed and calls to telephone enquiry lines will go unanswered.

An estimated £120 billion is lost every year because of tax evasion and avoidance - largely by very wealthy individuals and organisations - and because the department does not have sufficient resources to collect what is owed.

The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS), which represents more than three-quarters of HMRC staff, says that as well as "wringing their hands" about the morality of tax avoidance, ministers have the power to do something about it, starting with an immediate halt to the job cuts.

Last month MPs on the public accounts committee said job cuts had prevented HMRC from collecting an additional GBP 1.1billion in tax, with committee chair Margaret Hodge saying:

"The department must consider whether further staff cuts will deliver value for money for the taxpayer."

The strike is also in opposition to creeping privatisation in HMRC, as the department is currently spending GBP 4 million on a year-long trial using two private companies to handle tax credit enquiries.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said:

"It is sickening to see millionaires in the cabinet wringing their hands about the immorality of tax avoidance when it is their lack of political will to act that means we lose tens of billions of pounds every year.

"The case for investment in our public services as an alternative to austerity could not be more obvious than it is in HMRC. Yet the government wants to cut 10,000 more jobs from the department, letting the wealthy tax dodgers off the hook and punishing the rest of us for a recession we did not cause."

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