Employees desperate to avoid redundancy from HMRC in Dundee could be left £500 a month worse off, MPs have been told.
During a debate on the issue at Westminster, the SNP’s Chris Law also highlighted the case of a worker who said the prospect of being transferred to Glasgow or Edinburgh in a mass restructuring programme would mean she couldn’t care for her young son or elderly mum.
Around 130 jobs at Caledonian House are likely to be axed while bosses “can’t make any promises” about the future of 650 staff based at Sidlaw House who officials plan to redeployed to the Department of Work and Pensions.
Two new regional centres will be created in Glasgow and Edinburgh by 2019-20 under the controversial UK Government shake up, which aims to save £100 million a year by 2025.
Staff at Caledonian House could potentially be offered a switch to the central belt rather than redundancy, with some travel expenses covered.
Dundee West MP Mr Law slammed the decision at the House of Commons, branding it “the latest in a series of devastating attacks on public service jobs that Dundee has endured at the hands of successive Westminster Governments.”
He said: “While employees out with an hour’s travelling time may be able to access ‘Daily Travel Assistance’, this is taxable, and those affected are set to lose out by up to £500 per month.
“One member of staff, who expects to be asked to commute to one of the new regional centres, outlined the difficulties that three or four hours of travel per day would create for her family. She has caring responsibilities, with a 9 year old son, as well as her elderly mother and aunt, who do not keep good health.”
Mr Law pointed out that, unlike Scottish Government civil servants, HMRC centre staff will not be covered by a ministerial commitment to no compulsory redundancies.
He added: “HMRC can offer no guarantees of job safety to existing employees at Caledonian House. They will be forced to apply for a job at the new regional centres. Mr Speaker, if that is not a betrayal of a loyal and dedicated workforce, then I do not know what is.”
David Gauke, the UK Government’s Financial Secretary to the Treasury, claimed HMRC had “done this the right way” and argued the revamp would allow workers to progress in their careers and would be close to transport links.
He said: “HMRC have made it very clear to me they want to move in this direction because they believe the way they can best deliver services and collect tax is through regional centres.”