Task force needed to look at under threat HMRC jobs

Council leader Jim Logue and minister Keith Brown have become embroiled in a war of words over how best to tackle the threat to HMRC workers in Cumbernauld
Council leader Jim Logue and minister Keith Brown have become embroiled in a war of words over how best to tackle the threat to HMRC workers in Cumbernauld
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North Lanarkshire Council leader Jim Logue has hit out after receiving no assurances an emergency task force would be set up to protect HMRC workers.

The UK Government’s decision to close the Cumbernauld office means 1350 jobs are potentially under threat. Last year the full council voted to undertake a full economic impact assessment.

Councillor Logue wrote to the Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Jobs & Fair Work, Keith Brown MSP, in November asking that a task force similar to those set up for the Dalzell Works in Motherwell and Kwik-Fit Insurance in Tannochside be set up.

In his response Mr Brown detailed the Scottish Government’s concerns about HMRC’s transformation programme and his unsuccessful attempts to get the UK Treasury to change its mind. But he stopped short of agreeing to launch a task force that the PCS union has also requested.

This led Councillor Logue to accuse Mr Brown of failing to take action. He said: “Given that local Labour and SNP councillors are in agreement in their opposition to this closure, it is disappointing the Cabinet Secretary does not seem to share their eagerness to protect the workers.

“This scandalous decision taken by the UK Government is now compounded by the Scottish Government’s total lack of action and is an affront to the 1350 people who find their jobs at risk.

“We will continue to pressure the UK Government to reverse their decision and the Scottish Government to set up a task force to protect jobs.”

Mr Brown responded to claims of a lack of action as being ‘patently untrue’.

He said: “Not only did I write to the then Financial Secretary to HM Treasury to ask for a meeting to establish what we can do to mitigate the impact of this situation, but the First Minister spoke personally to the Second Permanent Secretary at HMRC.

“All of this was detailed in a letter that I sent to Mr Logue on November 22.

“We are committed to working with all interested parties at local, national and UK level to mitigate the impact of HMRC office closures.”