News update: Regional Centre announcements
This morning HMRC released the detail of its plans to move, over the next ten years, to a new structure built around a number of Regional Centres and specialist sites. The plans include the use of a small number of transitional offices and ‘stepping stone’ sites designed to move to that structure.
ARC has been working with HMRC on how today’s announcements would be landed and have pressed to ensure that everyone in HMRC is fully informed and engaged with what happens next. Although ARC support the way the announcements have been delivered, we recognise that for many members the message is an unwelcome one. We are pleased to note that everyone will have at least 12 months notice of the first office closures, giving people time to make plans, but we also want to assure you that we are still some distance from the end of the process.
Whatever the announcement means for you, we will be there to support you through the changes; whether that means talking to you as part of your Centre or, if you ask us to, helping you through the one-to-one process.
ARC have pressed for, and been instrumental in, setting up the Regional Implementation Teams and we are already receiving invites to send reps to begin work with each of those teams. What ARC must now do is to ensure that our organisational structure is such that we can capture and pass on the views and needs of all of our members wherever in the country they currently work. Our Centre Liaison Officers will be contacting all of our Centres over the coming weeks to build those structures, but much of the work will have to be done by members in the offices. You are the only people with the real in-depth knowledge of your own locality.
ARC firmly believe that with the technological changes HMRC has been making to its structure in recent times, it should be more receptive to different and alternative ways of working. The Cabinet Office itself, through its “The Way We Work” Project, recommends departments do that and we have asked to speak to the HMRC lead on the project to discuss how the principles in that document could be better used to support both HMRC and the people who work within it.
We are aware that in its announcements our employer has been advising that “HMRC policy defines RDT as normally travelling about an hour and a half each way to get to and from your place of work if your office is in London”. ARC does not agree with that interpretation.
We drew the employer’s attention to the current agreed guidance at HR59002 (see our one-to-one guidance for more details) and asked that the brief be amended to reflect the policy as currently set out. Unfortunately, they were not able to do so. We are concerned that as a consequence the position relating to what is considered “reasonable” is now less clear and we would like HMRC to speak to us about how to address that. What is important is that the conversations which will take place as part of the one-to-one process must be based on a mutual understanding of what reasonable means to both parties and the guidance at HR59002 currently sets that out. We have also taken the opportunity to remind HMRC that where it is appropriate, and meets people’s needs, Home Moves Assistance is still available too.
Going forward, we will issue a series of articles, as Updates and ARC News pieces, which will walk you through the key policies you need to know over the coming months. In the meantime we have set up a network of regional contacts as your first port of call.
The announcements today are only the beginning of the next stage of the restructuring process. We are here to support you through the changes whatever your role in them and as we move forward we will continue to provide the support you have come to expect of us.
Picture: HMRC Building, Nottingham. ©2016 Adam Clarke/Creative Commons 2.0