ST HELENS tax office will close in two years as HM Revenue and Customs looks to shut what it calls "expensive, isolated and outdated" offices.

HMRC’s office on College Street will close in 2018 as the organisations presses on with a 10 year modernisation programme which will see the establishment of regional centres in Livepool and Manchester.

Unions fear it will lead to significant job losses regionally and, even if staff in St Helens keep roles by relocating to the cities, it still means more jobs being pulled out of the town.

Twenty-four HMRC offices across the North West will close between 2017 and 2021.

Chief executive Lin Horner said: “HMRC has too many expensive, isolated and outdated offices – this makes it difficult for us to collaborate, modernise our ways of working and make the changes we need to transform out service to customers and clamp down further on the minority who try to cheat the system.

“The new regional centres in Liverpool and Manchester will bring our staff together in more modern and cost-effective buildings in areas with lower rents.

“They will also make a big contribution to the economy of the North West region, providing high-quality skilled jobs and supporting the government’s commitment to a national recovery that benefits all parts of the UK.

“HMRC is committed to modern regional centres serving every region and nation in the UK with skilled and varied jobs and development opportunities while also ensuring jobs are spread throughout the UK and not just concentrated in the capital.”

Seven years ago a campaign led by the then St Helens North MP Dave Watts saved the College Street offices from the axe and protected the jobs of more than 130 workers.