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Tax office closures criticised

Today Labour MP for Norwich South, Clive Lewis criticised plans to close tax offices - including the local office in Norwich which is slated to go by 2017.

The local offices are to be replaced by 'regional centres' with one of the two allocated to serve Norwich located as far away as Croydon.

Commenting on the implications for customer service and efficiency of collection in Norwich, Clive Lewis said:

"It is absurd that people in our city used to getting help with tax issues here in Norwich will now be referred to offices many miles away - one of which is on the other side of London.

"Aside from the massive disruption this will cause, these remote centres are already renowned for poor customer service and inefficiency in getting vital revenues in. The detailed local knowledge of offices like Norwich is key to tackling the nation's £35million tax avoidance and non-payment problem and the Public Accounts Committee is already on record as saying service levels at remote call centres "are so bad they are having an adverse impact on the collection of tax revenues".

Commenting on the likely negative impact on plans for deficit reduction, Clive continued:

"Shutting offices like Norwich will end up with less tax collected and deepen the deficit - meaning deeper cuts to our schools, NHS and social services. If this Tory government was really committed to sound public finances they would not be shutting these offices.

"Neither would they be rewarding their corporate and super-rich supporters with a tax cut bonanza ranging from £3.5 foregone due to George Osborne challenging the EU on bankers' bonuses, inheritance tax changes benefiting only 0.1% of families and the top rate income tax cut benefiting only the richest 1%."

Calling for proper scrutiny of the plans, Clive said:

"There is no clear line of accountability for these misjudged plans at Westminster and they have the feel of something we may all come to regret later. The impact on the service and for the jobs of Norwich Revenue employees is potentially huge so I call on the government to subject these plans to the proper, public scrutiny that they deserve. The government needs to listen to and learn from the on-the-job experiences of its own employees who day-to-day do one of the most important jobs in the public sector - making sure their is enough money to finance all of out other public services."

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