Protest against tax office closures

A PROTEST was held yesterday (Thursday) against proposals to slash the opening hours of a public tax office.

Members of the Lea Valley tax branch of the Public and Commercial Services Union gathered outside Stevenage Tax Office to voice their opposition to a HM Revenue and Customs plan to cut its opening days from five to two per week.

Branch president Jon Walford said: “We are particularly concerned that this will adversely affect all customers but particularly pensioners and tax credit claimants who form a substantial proportion of our customer base.

“Enquiry centre users often travel miles to visit the office to sort out their tax problems. We are worried that when they get here, they will find it closed, and have to come back another day.”

A spokesman for the government department said the changes were part of a UK scheme currently under consultation to “match footfall to opening hours”.

She said: “Fewer customers are using our face-to-face service at enquiry centres as our customers increasingly use our telephone and online services. However we are very much aware that there are customers who need face-to-face support to pay what they owe and claim what is due, and we will continue to offer an Enquiry Centre service to meet that need.”

A final decision on opening hours at the Stevenage office will be taken when the consultation ends in March.

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