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Scottish revenue and customs staff strike again

SCOTS working for HM Revenue and Customs returned to the picket lines again yesterday over further cuts at the beleaguered agency.

The PCS members’ walkout union comprised part of rolling strike action in a bid to head off Con-Dem cuts that would see the department’s workforce more than halved in the space of a decade.

PM David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne have repeatedly promised to crack down on “aggressive” tax avoidance and shore up Britain’s public-sector budget.

But the coalition has enraged public-sector unions and social justice campaigners by ravaging HMRC with swingeing job cuts, despite ministers’ tough talk on tax.

The latest cull would see another 2,000 jobs lost and some enquiry centres shut down altogether.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said the tax office had always been understood as “essential” to Britain’s economy and public spending.

“But it is being systematically undermined by unnecessary and politically motivated cuts.

“These strikes demonstrate we are serious about stopping these damaging cuts and making a positive case for proper investment in this crucial department,” he said.

An HMRC spokesman accused the union of “deliberately putting the livelihoods of hard-working families at risk to further an industrial dispute.”

The strikes follow embarrassment in HMRC’s press office after it was revealed that the agency had spent years effectively making up figures for its annual tax take.

In May the department touted a “record” £23.9 billion in revenue from “compliance activities.”

But closer analysis revealed that since 2010 its spin doctors had begun lumping in estimates of “revenue protected,” effectively guessing how much cash might arrive in the future as a result of parliamentary tinkering with tax law.

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