Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is a non-ministerial department of the government which is responsible for the collection of taxes, the payment of some forms of state support and the administration of some regulatory regimes including the national minimum wage. It currently has 170 offices across the country, one of which is in Croydon and is home to about 1,000 staff. As part of HMRC's efforts to cut costs, it is selling or not renewing the leases for most of these offices and consolidating down to 13 regional centres. This week it confirmed that one of these centres will in Croydon by signing a lease for Building One, Ruskin Square (the development between Dingwall Road and East Croydon station). The new centre will open next year.
This is fantastic news for the borough. Not only will it bring about 1,500 more people to the town centre providing a boost to our local economy, it should speed up the development of Ruskin Square (now that the developer has a tenant for the first office building, they are in a stronger financial position to get on with the others) and some of the posts are currently vacant so there is an opportunity for local people to apply for what are highly skilled jobs. Jon Thompson, the Chief Exec of HMRC, has confimred in writing to me that they:
"want to engage with local schools and colleges to support finance and tax education, help develop pupils’ digital skills and improve the employability skills of young people through various opportunities including coaching, mentoring and talks".
That's great to hear. And the final piece of good news is that the government has taken out an option on the second building so there is a possibility of further jobs to follow.
I have been working to get parts of the government relocated from expensive SW1 to Croydon since I was first elected in 2010. It has taken some time, but I am delighted that we are now seeing some progress. On the fifth anniversary of the riots, it is an illustration of how Croydon's image and prospects are changing for the better.