Deal signed on Birmingham civil service ‘hub’ for HMRC and DWP
City centre office block will house 3,600 civil servants
Artist's impression of 3 Arena Central Credit: Miller Developments
The Cabinet Office and HM Revenue and Customs have agreed a deal to take a 25-year lease on a brand new office building in Birmingham city centre that will house 3,600 staff.
Workers from the tax-collection agency, the Department for Work and Pensions and “several" other departments will occupy all of the 14-storey 3 Arena Central block from 2020, the Cabinet Office said.
The move is part of the Government Hubs Programme, which aims to radically reduce the number of government buildings from around 800 to 200 over the next five years through the consolidation of many operations into 18-22 regional centres, at least half of which will include bases for HMRC.
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Located around five minutes walk from the main Birmingham New Street Station, 3 Arena Central will also be a stone’s throw from the city’s Symphony Hall and the new Library of Birmingham.
Caroline Noakes, minister for government resilience and efficiency at the Cabinet Office, said Birmingham had high levels of skilled graduates and a “proud tradition of providing high-quality public sector services”.
“This new lease is great news,” she said. “The new government hub in the city centre will not just be a catalyst for regeneration, but will also mean that the civil servants working within it are equipped to deliver the best quality service to the taxpayer.”
HMRC chief executive Jon Thompson said the move would be “another step” in the department’s transition into a “modern digitally advanced tax authority”.
“It’s the beginning of a process that will see our colleagues come together in state-of-the art facilities, enabling closer working relationships and increasing our effectiveness in collecting taxes,” he said.
Andrew Rhodes, who leads DWP’s customer service operation, said the new hub would provide a more efficient working environment than the department’s current offices in the city and give staff “greater flexibility” to meet changing customer and business needs.
So far, hubs have been announced in Belfast, Bristol, east London, Cardiff, Croydon, Edinburgh, Leeds and Liverpool, with the drive being spearheaded by HMRC, which wants to shut 170 offices and replace them with 13 regional centres for its staff.
However, a report from the Public Accounts Committee released in April urged HMRC to reconsider its plans, suggesting that savings would be lower than predicted, and the strategy would impact negatively on local employment.
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