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Friday, 24 October 2014

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Campaign pays off as 70 jobs created at Lillyhall tax office

SEVENTY jobs are being created at a tax office at Lillyhall.

A share of a multi-million pound Government programme has led to the new posts at HM Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC) base.

The employment and economic boost was confirmed on Friday following a major campaign by a trade union and politicians to secure investment at the office.

The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union had vigorously lobbied senior management at HMRC to further strengthen operations at West Cumbria House.

The union had campaigned to have some of the recently announced £9m investment within HMRC allocated to the base.

The campaign was supported by MPs Sir Tony Cunningham and Jamie Reed. Sir Tony, the MP for Workington, welcomed the news.

He said: “I am absolutely delighted. They are a quality workforce, the best in the country. I am delighted 70 new jobs are coming to West Cumbria.”

Garry Humphrey, the PCS branch representative who led the union’s campaign, said: “This investment is excellent news for West Cumbria. This is what the union is arguing for nationally, as opposed to more cuts that are damaging local economies and communities.”

And Mr Humphrey believes there is plenty to celebrate for the area after the third major jobs announcement in recent weeks. The HMRC posts come on top of 500 jobs at the Sellafield nuclear complex and the relocation of staff from the atomic site to Albion Square in Whitehaven, where an £18m office complex is being built that will house up to 1,000 workers.

“It’s timely and all very welcome news given the government cuts to the Copeland Council budget,” Mr Humphrey said. “I do feel that it benefits the Whitehaven and West Cumbria area to have a diverse mix of employment opportunities and not just rely on the nuclear industry.”

The vacancies are understood to be fixed term posts in the Personal Taxes department as part of HMRC’s investment programme to reduce call waiting times for customers with personal tax queries. It is believed the vacancies will be advertised within weeks with an expected start date of March.

Mr Humphrey said that the union was actively supporting the recruitment by open selection of staff who are currently employed by a private firm, Sitel, as agency employees at West Cumbria House.

He said: “The staff are currently based at the West Cumbria office. These staff were part of a project to ascertain if HMRC could learn lessons from the private sector. The contract has not been renewed and the staff will lose their jobs in February 2013.

“The numbers of Sitel staff involved, and who can apply for these positions, will still mean HMRC will need to recruit externally and increase the number of staff on site.”

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