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HMRC creates 13 regional centres to support digital services

Cutting-edge systems, digital infrastructure and attracting tech-savvy staff are all part of HM Revenue & Customs’ transformation programme

As part of its ten-year modernisation programme, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is closing down local offices and moving to regional centres to offer “modern digital services”.

In a briefing report, HMRC said the 13 regional centres will be “equipped with the digital infrastructure and training facilities needed to build a more highly skilled workforce”.

“The changes mean we can give customers the modern services they now expect as we move firmly into the digital age – allowing us to deliver better public services at a lower cost to the taxpayer,” the briefing report said.

HMRC has 58,000 full-time equivalent employees in 170 offices throughout the country, some with fewer than ten employees. By 2021 it aims to have closed down 137 of those offices.

HMRC also plans to focus more on mobile working, having mobile teams which “will have access to networks of local touchdown sites across the UK, where they will be able to log-in, meet customers or hold confidential briefings – and will have the mobile IT to support their work”.

The regional centres – which will be based in cities across the UK such as Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow and Croydon – will also provide more high-quality skilled jobs.

HMRC will look for tax specialists with digital skills, data analysts and digital experts and plans to “work with universities and local colleges to attract the best and brightest talent”, the report said.

“We have cutting-edge systems that enable analysts to sort and sift billions of pieces of data to find discrepancies – so we need people who understand digital technology and can make the most of it.”

HMRC is working to bring its IT in-house, as its £800m-a-year Aspire contract expires in July 2017 and has begun to transfer around 250 staff from its prime contractor Capgemini into the department.

The department recently came under fire from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) for “still failing UK taypayers” and not providing an acceptable customer service, only answering 39% of calls within five minutes.

The PAC report said HMRC needed to set out a clear plan on how and when it will provide “good customer service” which “should include a clear plan for the efficient management of its change programme and introduction of new IT systems”.

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