By PCS Press Office 25 June 2012

Tens of thousands of PCS members in HM Revenue and Customs are on strike today, with picket lines held at more than 100 offices across the UK.

The industrial action is over the government's plan to axe a further 10,000 HMRC jobs, on top of 30,000 that have gone since the department was formed in 2005.

Face to face tax offices have been closed or running a vastly reduced service and calls to telephone enquiry lines are being met with a recorded announcement advising people to call back on Wednesday or "even later in the week".

The union says it is "hugely significant" that the strike comes on the day that prime minister David Cameron is threatening more welfare cuts. Instead of tackling the tens of billions of pounds lost to our public finances every year through tax evasion and avoidance, ministers are choosing to punish people on benefits for economic problems they did not cause.

Last week Mr Cameron described comedian Jimmy Carr's use of a tax avoidance scheme as "morally wrong", but his government is pressing ahead with cuts that will undermine HMRC's efforts to tackle this kind of abuse.

In May MPs on the public accounts committee said job cuts had prevented HMRC from collecting an additional £1.1billion in tax, with committee chair Margaret Hodge saying: "The department must consider whether further staff cuts will deliver value for money for the taxpayer."

Reports from around the country indicate that around 75% of the union's 55,000 HMRC members are on strike, with support in some offices as high as 97% of members, including:

Aberdeen 83%, Dundee 91%, Inverness 95% and East Kilbride 97%; North Wales offices 95%, Cardiff 93%, Carmarthen 85%, and Swansea 80%; Bootle 96%, Chesterfield 90%, Dover 76%, Portsmouth 75%, Stoke 90%.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "It is hugely significant that this strike is taking place on the day the prime minister is threatening more welfare cuts, because it shows his government prefers to target people on benefits instead of going after the tax dodgers.

"The case for investment instead of more cuts, as an alternative to austerity, could not be clearer than in HMRC where the money we collect funds all the other public services that we all rely on, and provides support to people when they need it."


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