CMA gets £17m advance to keep Canary Wharf office move on track
Watchdog is set to become latest government body to make east London move after funding advance
The Competition and Markets Authority has sought a advance of more than £17m from the government’s contingency fund to provide upfront cash to keep its move to a new Canary Wharf office on schedule.
The watchdog non-ministerial department revealed plans to relocate its headquarters from Holborn in central London last August, in a move that further confirms the east London financial district as a growing home for civil servants.
The CMA will lease space in the refurbished Cabot building from September in a new 15-year lease that will also provide the watchdog with space to expand following the UK’s exit from the European Union.
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In a written ministerial statement, Kelly Tolhurst, the minister in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy responsible for corporate responsibility, said the upfront funding request for the CMA would meet the cashflow requirements of the office move. This is because construction costs for the refurbished building, which were to be met after the Supply and Appropriation Act for 2019-20 has received Royal Assent in March 2019, needed to be paid in the last quarter of the current financial year.
“The cash advance will ensure the project stays on track and on budget and ensure that the CMA also meets its operational needs,” she said.
The announcement of the funding drawdown came as the CMA published its annual plan for 2019-20, which stated that it had “secured additional funding for 2018-19 and 2019-20 for the CMA’s office move to Canary Wharf in 2019 to ensure that it does not impact the day-to-day operational requirements of the organisation”.
Tolhurst’s statement said that parliamentary approval for additional resources of £2,793,000 and capital of £14,256,000 will be sought in a supplementary estimate for the CMA, and pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £17,049,000 will be met by repayable cash advances from the contingencies fund.
Civil Service World asked the CMA for more details on what the funds will be used for and what the refurbishment plans will entail.
The CMA's move to Canary Wharf will follow in the footsteps of HM Revenue and Customs, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency and the Pensions Ombudsman – all of which are tenants at the new government hub in the financial district.
The Cabinet Office has said that around 6,000 full-time civil and public servants from offices in Whitehall have or will move to the hub, which forms part of the revised Government Estates Strategy’s drive to relocate civil service posts around the country to boost local growth.
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