HM Revenue and Customs is boosting the number of staff who will be based at its new regional hub in east London because of the department's increased Brexit-related workload, permanent secretary Sir Jon Thompson has said.
The tax-collection agency signed a lease on new office space at Stratford at the end of 2017 with a view to basing 3,800 staff at the hub – one of 13 such hubs it is opening.
HMRC initially opted to take the top eight floors of the building, which is being constructed across the road from the Westfield shopping centre and a stone’s throw from the London Aquatics Centre.
Thompson has now told staff that HMRC will take an additional three floors of the building and base 600 additional staff at Stratford, making it home to 4,400 full-time-equivalent workers.
Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee has taken a keen – and sometimes critical – interest in HMRC’s hubs programme, which will see staff relocated from 170 smaller offices around the country.
In a just-published letter updating committee chair Meg Hillier on the Stratford plans, Thompson said the extra space at the new Stratford building would allow HMRC’s IT and customer services teams to have a larger presence in the capital than had been originally planned.
“We have made this decision due to additional workload as a result of our exit from the European Union,” he said.
“And also to ensure that we can keep to our promise to staff that those who can get to a regional centre, transitional site or specialist site, and have the skills or can develop them, there will be a role for them.”
Thompson said HMRC still planned to move a previously-specified number of roles out of London, but “just not as quickly as first thought”.
He said construction of the new Stratford Regional Centre, which is on Westfield Avenue, was progressing well and that the outer shell of the building was almost complete.
Thompson said the building was on schedule to open in late 2020.
HMRC’s Croydon hub was the first in the programme. It officially opened in 2017.