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Investment firm backs bid to keep 1,000 tax jobs in city centre

A MAJOR investment firm has backed Bradford’s bid to keep around 1,000 tax jobs in the city by buying up offices in a multi-million pound deal.

MBU Capital has acquired Centenary Court in Forster Square, currently home to HMRC’s Bradford offices, from CLS Holdings for a price of £14.35 million.

HMRC plans to close the site by 2021 with staff moving to a new regional hub in Wellington Place in Leeds, but MBU bosses say their investment is a “vote of confidence” in the battle to fight against the move.

Abid Hussain, senior portfolio manager at MBU Capital, said: “We think HMRC should reconsider its plans to leave Bradford. Our analysis shows that there would be insufficient office space in Wellington Place to accommodate all the staff from the surrounding satellite offices.

“It would make economic and logistical sense for the tax office to utilise this building as a local hub to run in tandem with its larger regional office. Bradford has so much going for it that the city will be in pole position to stay open as a regional tax hub. It has a highly skilled local workforce and will offer a lower overall cost of operation than Leeds. We are right behind the local council and MP’s fight to keep Centenary Court open.”

Naz Shah, Labour MP for Bradford West, said MBU’s investment added to the “strong case for the continuation of HMRC services in Bradford.”

Imran Hussain, Labour MP for Bradford East, added: “This purchase demonstrates a great show of confidence in the strength of Bradford’s bid to keep HMRC’s office in the city open, and adds further weight to the ever-growing argument to move the regional hub to Bradford with lower living and office accommodation costs, strong access to skills, and a young, growing population. HMRC were reviewing how they can adjust the scope of the programme to reduce costs and delivery risks, so this investment offers them the perfect opportunity to accept that Bradford would offer much greater benefits.”

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, the leader of Bradford Council, also welcomed the deal, stating: “This transaction by a major investor demonstrates continued confidence in the Bradford economy. We look forward to working with them in the future.”

In response to the MBU deal, HMRC said the move to regional centres was about “enabling its wider transformation and improving customer service.”

A spokesman said: “HMRC’s ambition is to become one of the most digitally-advanced tax authorities in the world – but it can only do this by becoming a smaller, more highly-skilled and flexible organisation, by making better use of technology and by working differently.

“In September we confirmed the location of our Leeds Regional Centre at 7 & 8 Wellington Place, which is due to open in the autumn of 2020. The regional centre will be slightly larger than originally planned, accommodating around 3,850 HMRC staff by 2021.

“HMRC plans to close Centenary Court in 2020-21 with staff moving to the regional centre in Leeds.”

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