Friday, 29 January 2010
PETERHEAD STAFF AVERAGE NEARLY 20 YEARS' EXPERIENCE EACH
SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford has expressed fears that the closure of Keith House by HM Revenue & Customs could see a loss of staff experience in handling public enquiries and the Share Fishermen's Scheme.
Parliamentary Answers obtained by the SNP show that the average length of service of staff members at Keith House is 19½ years.
In addition, in response to a Parliamentary Question from Banff & Buchan MP Alex Salmond, the London Treasury has revealed that the tax take from the Share Fishermen's Scheme in 2008 in Scotland was almost double that for the remainder of the UK. As Europe's principal white fish port, it can be assumed that a large proportion of that came through Keith House.
Commenting on the revelations, SNP Westminster candidate for Banff & Buchan Eilidh Whiteford said:
"The decision taken by the London Government to close Keith House is deplorable and these figures obtained by my colleague Alex Salmond MP in response to his Parliamentary Questions highlight precisely how short-sighted a move this is.
"With the average length of service of Keith House staff being 19½ years, I have a real concern that much of this experience will be lost due to the closure as staff choose either not to be relocated or find work elsewhere.
"The London Treasury's tax take from the Share Fishermen's Scheme is, as one would expect given its relative importance to the Scottish economy, much more in Scotland than it is for the whole of the rest of the UK. It's fair to assume that much of that will come through Keith House based as it is in Europe's premier fishing constituency. This is no way to treat a loyal, experienced workforce who have specialist expertise in this field.
"In addition, the National Audit Office have just issued a damning report which shows that HM Revenue & Customs failed to answer as many as 44 million phone calls last year – 43% of the 103 million calls received - despite employing the equivalent of 10,500 full-time staff at a cost of £233m.
"The National Audit Office said the performance of 31 customer "contact centres" during 2008/09 was "unacceptable".
"If HMRC are already struggling to cope, then what kind of impact will the closure of 130 offices and loss of 1,700 staff have on already beleaguered services. For the Treasury to push ahead with these job losses is utter madness, and the public and businesses will suffer.
“If anything it seems HMRC should be increasing their staff and services to cope with their workload. We are in the teeth of recession, and it is no time for the London Government to be adding to the dole queue.
“As well as being a bitter blow to the HMRC workforce, these cuts will hit businesses and the public just when they need accessible and well-resourced services most.
“UK Ministers must get a grip with HMRC and think again over these outrageous and ill-timed job losses.”
Details of the National Audit Office findings about HMRC can be found here:
Copies of Parliamentary Questions tabled at Westminster by local MP Alex Salmond and colleagues follow:
Share Fisherman's Scheme: Duty
Mr. Salmond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much duty has been collected at each location from the Share Fishermen's Scheme in each of the last five years. 
Mr. Timms: Payments received under the Share Fisherman's Scheme in the last five years are provided in the following table.
England, Wales and Northern Ireland (EWNI) Scotland (SCO)
2005 EWNI £1,510,180 SCO £4,636,486
2006 EWNI £1,594,124 SCO £4,804,904
2007 EWNI £1,924,492 SCO £4,540,353
2008 EWNI £2,088,202 SCO £4,057,633
2009 EWNI £1,854,100 SCO £3,051,789
Mr. Salmond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much in (a) direct and (b) indirect taxes was (i) collected and (ii) administered by the HM Revenue and Customs office in Peterhead in each year since 2006. 
Mr. Timms: The information requested is available only at disproportionate cost due to the work required to extract it from HM Revenue and Customs' systems.
Mr. Salmond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many staff were based at the office of HM Revenue and Customs and its predecessor organisations in Peterhead in each year since 2006. 
Mr. Timms: The number of staff based in HM Revenue and Customs office in Peterhead for each year since 2006 is shown in the following table:
As at 1 April: Headcount FTE(1)
2006 23 (20.20)
2007 20 (17.59)
2008 18 (15.40)
2009 10 (8.40)
(1) FTE relates to full time equivalent.
Mr. Salmond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer from which HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) offices the Shares Fishermen's Scheme will be administered following the closure of Keith House, Peterhead; and what steps will be taken by HMRC to retain the expertise of its staff in respect of the fishing industry following the closure. 
Mr. Timms: The Share Fisherman Scheme will be administered from the HM Revenue and Customs' (HMRC's) office in Aberdeen where other work specific to the fishing industry is already carried out. HMRC's expectation is that staff in Keith House, Peterhead currently administering the scheme will relocate with their work if they are able to do so, enabling them to use their existing skills and expertise. Individual options will be explored for those who cannot relocate and the work will be continued from Aberdeen by staff with fishing industry experience.
Mr. Salmond: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what consultation HM Revenue and Customs undertook with the fishing industry over the closure of Keith House, Peterhead. 
Mr. Timms: HM Revenue and Customs' (HMRC) local business managers in Peterhead invited the Scottish Fishermen's Federation to comment on the proposed closure of Keith House as part of its Regional Review Programme.
Stewart Hosie (Dundee East): To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the average length of service is of staff employed by HM Revenue and Customs and its predecessor organisations at each of its locations in Scotland. 
Mr. Timms: The information requested is provided in the following table:
Town Office name Average length of service (years)
Aberdeen Ruby House 24.5
Ayr Russell House 25.8
Bathgate Pyramids Business Park 4.0
Buckie Moray House 22.4
Coatbridge 2 Muiryhall Street 25.2
Cumbernauld St. Mungos Road 14.8
Dumbarton 15 Meadowbank Street 25.1
Dumfries Government Buildings 25.1
Dundee Caledonian House 23.4
Dunfermline Merchiston House 28.2
Dunoon Auchencraig 18.7
East Kilbride Hawbank Stores 19.6
Plaza Tower 8.4
Queensway House 18.0
Edinburgh 44 York Place 23.9
Argyle House 14.6
Clarendon House Edinburgh 24.4
Elgin House 22.3
Erskine House 14.0
Grayfield House 17.1
Meldrum House 23.1
Saughton House 21.0
Elgin Phoenix House 25.9
Falkirk Grahame House 20.7
Galashiels New Reiver House 27.7
Glasgow Blythswood House 21.7
Cotton House 21.4
Portcullis House Glasgow 13.9
Glenrothes Saltire House 17.8
Grangemouth Custom House 25.7
Greenock 99 Dalrymple Street 28.6
Custom House Greenock 21.8
Hamilton 1 Barrack Street 26.1
Hawick Crown Building Hawick 21.2
Inverness Longman House 32.9
River House 24.2
Irvine Marress House 26.6
Kirkcaldy 26 Victoria Road 27.0
Lerwick Charlotte House 41.3
Livingston Almondvale 20.6
Barbara Ritchie House 4.9
Pentland House 20.0
Motherwell 43 Civic Square 26.3
Oban Mathieson House 44.4
Paisley Vigilant House 22.5
Gilmour House 27.8
Terminal Building Glasgow Airport 33.7
Perth 1 to 3 Water Vennel 22.2
Peterhead Keith House 19.5
Rothesay 9 King Street 26.7
Stirling Spittal Street 26.0
Ullapool 24 West Argyll Street 31.6
Wick Government Buildings 24.3
Stewart Hosie (Dundee East): To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer with which estate partners HM Revenue and Customs holds contracts relating to accommodation and facilities management for its offices in Scotland. 
Mr. Timms: HM Revenue and Customs' (HMRC) main estate partner is Mapeley with whom it holds the Strategic Transfer of the Estate to the Private Sector (STEPS) contract relating to accommodation and facilities management for offices in Scotland and throughout the UK. HMRC also has estate contracts with London and Regional Properties for two offices in Scotland, one in Edinburgh and one in Glasgow.