“IT is hard to grow up and live in my constituency without developing personal connections with what is known locally simply as the tax office.”

Those words, spoken by then Labour MP Gregg McClymont in 2014, reveal the scale of the toll the closure of HMRC Cumbernauld would take on the Scottish town.

Officially designated as a “new town” in 1955 to help deal with overspill from Scotland’s largest population centres, Cumbernauld’s HMRC office opened in 1978 in an effort to bring jobs to the area.

But now, despite rhetoric of levelling up and decentralisation, the Tory government are reversing that policy.

READ MORE: HMRC Cumbernauld closure: Scotland wasn't levelled up, it was let down

“HMRC is now concentrating jobs in city centres,” Adam Smith, an SNP council candidate for Cumbernauld East, PCS trade union man and HMRC employee told The National.

“Glasgow, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Liverpool, Belfast, Cardiff, Birmingham, it’s all the big cities. It’s the complete opposite of this levelling-up agenda that the Tories are trying to promote,” he said.

John Miller, the PCS branch chair and Smith’s colleague at the tax office, added: “They’re taking employment out of the areas that need it most.”

The National: Gregg McClymont was the area’s Labour MP in 2014Gregg McClymont was the area’s Labour MP in 2014

With around 1400 jobs at the HMRC site in a town of 23,000 households, it is little wonder that everyone we spoke to said the same thing: there’s no-one in Cumbernauld who doesn’t know someone who works there.

In fact, some families have seen three generations all working on the site on St Mungo’s Road, which now looks set to be demolished and replaced with 160 houses.

But the loss of jobs from the town will have a wider-reaching impact, with knock-on effects hitting local businesses and taking much-needed foot traffic away from an already suffering high street.

READ MORE: Do Unionists still think we are Better Together as HMRC Cumbernauld closes?

An economic impact survey conducted in 2019 was responded to by around 55% of all workers at the HMRC office and found some sobering statistics.

It estimated that more than £222,000 a year which those 55% of staff alone said they spent on lunches in the town centre’s cafes, sandwich shops and chippies would evaporate, along with more than £700,000 spent in the area’s supermarkets.

Furthermore, a massive 81.7% of respondents said they planned to relocate to Glasgow after the Cumbernauld site shut, as the new HMRC office will be in the centre of Scotland’s largest city.

With jobs and people leaving the town, who is going to buy and live in the 160 new houses planned to be built once the HMRC office has been demolished?

“That’s the question we’ve been asking,” Miller says.