Connect with us

Blog

Turner says Tax Office meeting ‘Very disappointing’

Published

on

Island MP Andrew Turner has described his meeting with tax chiefs about the future of the Newport tax office as ‘very disappointing.’

Speaking after meeting Sir David Varney, chairman of HM Revenue and Customs, at Westminster, he said,

“I told Sir David of the concerns of my constituents who work in the tax office that

  • they had been given partial or inaccurate information;
  • there is no guarantee of retaining jobs in Newport;
  • HMRC was losing a loyal, experienced and well-qualified workforce; and
  • the office at Dodnor is inconvenient to staff and customers alike.

“He said that some staff questions could have been dealt with more quickly, but that some decisions genuinely hadn’t been taken so questions could not be answered – for instance, the effect of introducing mobile working to HMRC could be to safeguard some Island jobs from 2008, but he is not yet in a position to know.

“He does intend to provide work until 2008 for anyone who cannot relocate, but had taken no final decision beyond then. But those 49 or so staff would be given prior consideration for other Government jobs which become available on the Island.

“Finally he did accept that the Dodnor premises are not ideal and will seek a town centre location from 2008.”

Mr Turner added,

“HMRC is working within difficult constraints – too much property in the wrong places, with a high exit costs from leases; inadequate IT infrastructure to support mobile working; and a wholly unreasonable and arbitrary Government target of exporting jobs from the south-east and London to the north, without regard to the fact that IW unemployment is higher than some places in the north.”

END

Contact: Andrew Turner 01983 530808

Follows : Andrew Turner’s summary of meeting with Sir David Varney

I met Sir David Varney, Chairman of HM Revenue & Customs, yesterday to discuss the future of the Newport tax office.

I told Sir David of the concerns of my constituents that

  • Tax office staff had been given partial or inaccurate information;
  • There is no guarantee of retaining jobs in Newport;
  • HMRC was losing a loyal, experienced and well-qualified workforce; and
  • The new office at Dodnor is inconvenient to staff and customers alike.

He was concerned that HMRC staff in Newport felt they had not been properly informed of his proposals. He acknowledged that some questions had not been answered as quickly as might have been desirable, and told me that in other cases answers were not possible because decisions had not been made. I accept that people often greet such a claim with scepticism, but Sir David did make it clear that, for example, improving mobile communications could make home-working much more practical in two years’ time than is the case now and that would impact on decisions to be taken then.

He accordingly gave no guarantees that any processing jobs will remain on the Island beyond 2008, but that is not to say that they will necessarily go. He does intend to maintain enough work for everyone unable to relocate (but this will decrease as numbers of staff decline). I did press for HMRC to consider relocating work to the Island (because of our low rents, and loyal and capable workforce), but Sir David told me that HMRC already has such an excess of office space that there could be no justification in so doing.

With regard to the future of those staff who cannot reasonably travel to the mainland – and HMRC accepts that there are at least 49 – Sir David reiterated that they would be given priority consideration for any Government post which becomes available on the Island, and accepted that those extend well beyond the single agency (Vehicle and Operating Services Agency) identified in the Impact Assessment.

Finally I pointed out that the new premises at Dodnor are very hard to access for staff and customers alike. Their choice seems to conflict with all Government advice on sustainability and access for vulnerable people. He recognised that somewhere nearer to the centre of Newport would have been preferable, but there were no suitable premises at the time. He undertook to seek such a location when the leases on both the Dodnor premises and the Annex run out.

I cannot say that I am happy with all these decisions and in particular I am disappointed that a decision was taken and implemented while I was making representations on your behalf. I am pleased that the search for offices after 2008 will focus more closely on the convenience of customers and staff who depend on public transport and I hope also that the option of distance-working will by then be available, which again should protect more jobs on the Island.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Blog

Broadlands jobs safe

Published

on

By

Island MP Andrew Turner has received confirmation that the future of jobs and services at Broadlands House are secure following press reports that previously announced new jobs would not now be coming to the Island. Mr Turner said that yesterday’s press reports were completely at odds with assurances he had received both from the Minister last summer and the regional manager as recently as November last year. On hearing the reports that plans had changed he contacted the senior management of JobCentre Plus to seek clarification of the position.

Mr Turner said

“I have now received definite confirmation that the plans of Jobcentre Plus have not changed and that they will be keeping a benefit processing centre on the Island as well as establishing one of only two national insurance number processing centres here. I have been told that the additional jobs will arise as their plans are implemented over the coming months.”

Mr Turner went on to say

“During our meeting last November Guy Tompkins Jobcentre Plus’s regional manager was very complimentary about their workforce on the Island and told me that the positive approach of the staff was one of the reasons why they planned to expand on the Island. I am very glad that they see the sense of bringing work to the Island rather than taking it to the mainland and I will continue to press Government to follow their example.

Continue Reading

Blog

School Reorganization – Where will £70m come from?

Published

on

By

Government have denied promising the IW Council £70 million to pay for reorganizing Island schools from a three- to a two-tier system. And the Island’s MP has criticized the ‘optimistic noises’ on funding given at consultation meetings.

In a Parliamentary Answer to Island MP Andrew Turner it was revealed that there have been absolutely no promises from the Government to provide the estimated £70 million needed for the changes being proposed by council officials. In answering Mr Turner, Stephen Twigg MP, the Minister responsible for school funding, made it clear that the Isle of Wight council has received no assurances that extra money will be made available for the proposed changeover. Mr Turner has criticized the impression given to parents and teachers that obtaining the money needed from central government would not present a problem.

Andrew Turner said,

“During the meeting I attended at Sandown High School it was clearly stated that ‘we can get’ the £70 million needed to change the system. I was surprised to hear that because that simply isn’t the way that Government works. I have asked the Government what promises they have given and they have clearly told me that they have given none. I have now asked the Council what led them to give such a misleading impression to those who went to the trouble of attending the meeting. I have been told that there have been informal meetings with government officials who support these proposals – I am afraid that does not represent government spending commitments. Frankly I am shocked that optimistic noises were made which misled people.”

Exam results and education standards on the Island are far below the national average and the recent report costing £100,000 by 4S recommended changing the system but did not provide any evidence that this alone would improve standards. Mr Turner went on to say:

“There may well be arguments for changing the system – but changing the system does not guarantee improving standards; the issues should not be mixed up. Even the advocates of change admit it would cost a fortune. If that money does not come from central government it will have to come from existing council budgets and be topped up by Island council taxpayers.

“It is at very least disingenuous to suggest that finding the money to achieve change is not an important issue that needs to be discussed as part of these proposals. I am worried that the Council seems to believe that informal discussions with civil servants translates into promises of many millions of pounds – sadly that is not the case.

“We need to raise standards but that is best done by the Council accepting that some schools are better than others, publishing that information to parents, governors, teachers and the wider public, and tackling the problems on a school-by-school basis. It is not as glamorous as being the architect of a whole new system, but it is much more likely to give our children the quality schooling they deserve.”

END

Contact : Andrew Turner 01983 530808

School Building (Isle of Wight)

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what (a) commitments and (b) undertakings she has made to the Isle of Wight Council regarding future capital allocations provided (i) through the Building Schools for the Future programme or (ii) otherwise, whether (A) contingent on or (B) not contingent on school reorganisation. [216280]

Mr. Stephen Twigg: A letter has been sent to all council leaders stating that, for authorities not prioritised in the first three waves of Building Schools for the Future (BSF), including the Isle of Wight, we are determined to make a start on BSF plans between 2005–06 and 2010–11. Our ambition is that in the next full Parliament, subject to future spending decisions, 60 per cent. of all authorities will have started in the BSF programme, or else be given resources to renew at least one secondary school with the greatest need as a school for the future, or as an academy. Each BSF scheme will be judged on its merits, and is not necessarily contingent on school reorganisation. Other capital allocations to the council and its schools were announced on 30 November, and are set out in the following table:

£000
2006–07 14,853
2007–08 15,446

Continue Reading

Blog

Can we become a Fairtrade Island?

Published

on

By

As World Fair Trade Fortnight draws to a close this Sunday the Island’s MP Andrew Turner has praised the work of the IW Fairtrade Forum. The Forum is working towards the accolade of Fairtrade Island by building on existing users and suppliers of Fairtrade products to spread the word about the products and the good they do for their producers in the developing world. There are now more than 250 products bearing the distinctive green and blue logo which guarantees a fair deal to producers of such items as coffee, tea, sugar and bananas.

Andrew Turner said,

“The Fairtrade product range has expanded over recent years and whilst once they were seen as an expensive alternative they now offer good value and quality. In order to become a Fairtrade Island we need more suppliers of the products so everybody really can make a difference by asking their local coffee shop or convenience store to stock a few items from the range. As the largest constituency in the country the Island gaining this accolade really would make a difference and give a boost to the national campaign. Fairtrade really makes a difference to those communities that need a helping hand – and I know that on the Island we have a really caring and compassionate community”.

Jim Curtis the co-ordinator of the IW Fairtrade Forum said

“I very much value Andrew’s support for this campaign. In order for the Island to be recognised in this way we need the active support of the Isle of Wight council as well as that of suppliers across the Island. I urge everyone to let their local councillors know that they would be proud to see us become a Fairtrade Island helping less fortunate people to take control of their own lives and build themselves a better future.

Continue Reading

Trending

Pin It on Pinterest