The UK's tax authority has explained the decision to close two tax offices in Cumbria, with the loss of more than 300 jobs.
Offices at Lillyhall and Carlisle are expected to close by 2018.
HMRC says its workforce in the North West is spread across 24 offices, and that to modernise it needs to close some of these.
Instead, it will have two regional centres, in Liverpool and Manchester, which it says will save the taxpayer money:
HMRC is committed to modern, regional centres serving every region and nation in the UK, with skilled and varied jobs and development opportunities, while also ensuring jobs are spread throughout the UK and not concentrated in the capital.
HMRC has too many expensive, isolated and outdated offices. This makes it difficult for us to collaborate, modernise our ways of working, and make the changes we need to transform our service to customers and clamp down further on the minority who try to cheat the system.
The new regional centres in Liverpool and Manchester will bring our staff together in more modern and cost-effective buildings in areas with lower rents. They will also make a big contribution to the economy of the North West region providing high-quality, skilled jobs and supporting the Government’s commitment to a national recovery that benefits all parts of the UK.”
HMRC has announced it plans to close 139 local tax offices, including ones at Lillyhall in Workington, and in Carlisle.
- Lillyhall - to close in 2018, with the loss of 200 jobs
- Carlisle - to close in 2017/18, with the loss of 123 jobs
It's part of a plan to replace local offices with 13 regional hubs, and the new centres are expected to open in the next five years.
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Unite Union has reiterated claims that workers felt intimidated by Cumbria Police, at their official picket line last Wednesday:
We are frustrated with what happened to our picket last Wednesday. As they dealt with traffic issues Cumbria Police opened another area to get people onto the Sellafield site which bypassed our lawful picket line. It meant that many workers were unable to talk to us and us them. The police were quite forceful with their actions and some workers felt intimated by them."
Cumbria Police says its response to strikes by Sellafield contractors was "proportionate and balanced".
The statement was issued after some of the workers claimed they were "intimidated" by police while picketing on Wednesday.
Cumbria Constabulary was present at the Sellafield site this morning in order to help facilitate lawful industrial action and implement a traffic management plan.
During the course of the morning a number of people were spoken to and cars obstructing roads were moved when requested by police. This was to allow those travelling to work to enter the site, and to ensure the action had minimal impact on members of the local community travelling in the area.
The Constabulary fully supports the right of an individual to take lawful industrial action, however a proportionate and balanced policing response is often required in consideration of those not involved in the action."
Hundreds of Sellafield contract workers remain on strike after claiming they were "intimidated" by police while picketing on Wednesday.
The pickets were in place as part of an ongoing campaign by Unite members to have a full-time Union convenor based on the site.
Cumbria Police deny intimidation and say they were preventing cars obstructing roads.