As part of the wider Government Hubs Programme, an effort by official bodies to reduce the number of isolated and under-used offices that the government has by co-locating departments in shared buildings across the UK, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) recently announced that they have agreed to lease 238,988sq ft of office space at 3 Arena Central in the city of Birmingham. The brand new office block will be situated at the heart of the 9-acre city centre regeneration site, on which demolition and site clearance work is due to begin immediately.

An artist's impression of the Arena Central development   - Img: Birmingham Post
The new 14-storey premises will accommodate up to 3,600 public servants, with HMRC planning to move staff across from their various existing West Midlands offices in 2020 following the building being handed over for fit-out in the spring of that same year. Staff from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will also make the move as the government continues its push to consolidate its existing offices into a series of regional hubs.

HMRC chief executive Jon Thompson said of the planned relocation, “We’re delighted to be part of the new UK Government Hub in 3 Arena Central, Birmingham. This is another step in HMRC’s transformation into a modern digitally advanced tax authority.

“It’s the beginning of a process that will see our colleagues come together in state-of-the art facilities, enabling closer working relationships and increasing our effectiveness in collecting taxes. It will also make HMRC an important contributor to the economy and to communities in and around Birmingham.”

As far as location goes the newly selected site seems ideal; Birmingham’s three main railway stations - Moor Street, Snow Hill, and New Street- are all in easy walking distance of the premises, while the site also has good connections available to Birmingham Airport. This likely added to the overall appeal of the site and played a large part in the selection process.

Neil Rami, chief executive of the West Midlands Growth Company, said, “The Arena Central deal is significant. A public sector hub of this scale will have a positive impact on investor confidence in the region’s commercial property market. We envisage further opportunities as the government repurposes its estate and non-departmental bodies assess the benefits of relocating out of London.”

HMRC’s office restructure project will see thousands of staff relocate to a small number of locations from the current 137 local offices and centres across the country, which is expected to save more than £300m in the run up to 2025. While HMRC have stated that they are expecting to retain up to 90% of their current workforce as they press forward with relocation efforts, up to 6,000 redundancies are expected due to the geographic relocations of these new hubs.

A spokesman for HMRC commented, “While HMRC’s modelling shows the vast majority of its staff will be able to move, all staff will have a meeting with their manager about a year before the move to discuss their personal circumstances.

“It will be at this point that a clearer picture will emerge about an individual’s ability to relocate.

“HMRC will do everything it can to support both its people in relocating to the regional centres and in trying to find alternative solutions for those that can’t.”

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor as he continues to expand his horizons.
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