By Tevye Markson

03 Feb 2022

Close to 10,000 new relocations were announced in yesterday's levelling up white paper, bringing the running total to more than 15,000

More than two-thirds of the civil service jobs the government wants to relocate outside London by the end of this decade have now been announced, with a spate of new moves confirmed in the levelling up white paper.

Up until yesterday, government departments and agencies had announced around 6,000 job relocations, after committing to moving 22,000 civil service roles out of London by 2030 as part of its Place for Growth programme.

This has now been ramped up to more than 15,000, including those moving to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s new Manchester site and Ministry of Justice staff relocating to Wales, as revealed in the levelling up white paper.

Places for Growth, a Cabinet Office-led programme that predates the levelling up agenda, aims to reduce regional disparities in the UK, also includes a commitment for 50% of UK-based senior civil service roles to be outside London.

The arrival of 10 civil service jobs in an area spurs the creation of about 11 jobs in the private sector, according to the 2004 Lyons Review, which led to 20,000 civil service roles leaving the capital.

The Institute for Government said the government had made a “promising start” on relocations, in its Whitehall Monitor report released earlier this week.

Among the highest-profile roles to have moved already are two directors general, one from the Department for International Trade and one from the Treasury, relocating to Darlington.

But jobs are on the rise in London more than anywhere else in the UK.

The latest figures show a 11.2% increase in civil service headcount in the capital over the 12 months up to March 2021, largely due to the pandemic-fuelled expansion of the Department for Health and Social Care and the Department for Work and Pensions. The east of England saw the next-highest growth, with staff numbers there rising by 6.8%.

Almost 80% of civil servants work outside London, but senior and policy roles are still heavily weighted towards the capital. Around two-thirds of senior civil servants are based in London, according to the latest figures.

The levelling up white paper shows that so far, only 458 SCS job relocations have been confirmed – roughly 2% two per cent of the total number of senior civil servants – while three departments (HM Revenue and Customs, DHSC and the Foreign Office) are yet to confirm any SCS relocations.

“Our previous research indicates that for campuses outside of London to be viable, there has to be clear evidence of senior buy-in,” IfG researcher Jordan Urban told CSW.

“There are two director generals at the Darlington campus right now and I think part of the buzz and excitement about the Darlington campus does come from the fact that they have those high-profile senior roles.

“Having senior staff in these offices outside of London is very important to the success of those offices, because it shows that there’s a robust career pathway for talented people who want to reach higher up into the civil service but don't necessarily want to live in or work in London.”

Urban also highlighted the importance of where these jobs go.

“In general, our research suggests that the value of relocation is primarily about being able to attract and offer good career paths to talented people who don't live in or want to live in London,” he said.

“In this context, we see relocations to places like Birmingham and Leeds and Manchester, where relocations have been announced, as ideal places, if you are going to move civil servants out of London, to move them to.”

Department-by-department announcements

Here are the previous announcements before yesterday’s levelling up white paper was released alongside the latest updates.

Business, Environment and Industrial Strategy

Previously announced: In May, the Department for Business, Environment and Industrial Strategy said it would move 865 roles to six locations – Salford, Birmingham, Cardiff and Darlington, Belfast and Edinburgh – the latter two being new offices.

Latest: 1,850 job relocations have now been announced, with Aberdeen a new location. This includes 87 senior civil service roles. 1,350 of the moves will be by 2025.

Cabinet Office

Previously announced: In March, the Cabinet Office announced it would establish a second flagship HQ with ministerial offices in Glasgow, with 500 staff, as well as a desire to increase its presence in York.

Latest: 1,742 relocations have now been announced in total, all by 2025, including 69 SCS roles. As well as Glasgow and York, the CO says there will be “small growth” in Cardiff, Belfast and Edinburgh.

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Previously announced: None. The department had announced plans for a base in Manchester, but had not given details of what this would look like.

Latest: 701 relocations in total, all by 2025, including 31 in SCS. Locations: Manchester, Darlington, Edinburgh, Tyneside, Cardiff, Belfast, Glasgow, Leeds, Loughborough, Birmingham, Liverpool, Nottingham, Bristol and Sheffield.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Previously announced: In November, Defra announced a new hub at its offices in Newcastle but did not say how many jobs would move there. The department said it was also establishing a presence in Edinburgh and Cardiff from January 2022 and said plans for Northern Ireland will follow.

Latest: 1,110 roles in total, with half by 2025, in York, Tyneside, Bristol, Cardiff and Edinburgh. 18 SCS roles.

Department for Education

Previously announced: None

Latest: 951, with 551 by 2025. Sheffield, Coventry, Manchester, Darlington, Bristol and Nottingham. 35 in SCS.

Department for Transport

Previously announced: In March, DfT announced a second HQ in Birmingham and a northern hub in Leeds, as part of a plan to create 650 roles in these cities

Latest: 1,250 roles in total, in Leeds, Birmingham and Edinburgh, with 688 by 2025. 41 SCS roles.

The Department for Health and Social Care

Previously announced: DHSC said it would establish a regular ministerial presence in its existing second HQ in Leeds.

Latest: 380 relocations by 2025. SCS moves to be confirmed. Moves to Leeds, Burnley, Runcorn, Reading, Edinburgh and “exploring potential growth” at 16 former Public Health England sites including: Newcastle, Sheffield, Nottingham and Cambridge.

Department of International Trade

Previously announced: In March, DIT said it would open new trade and investment hubs in Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast, along with joining the Treasury site in Darlington, with 550 staff to move by 2025 and an ambition to increase this to 750 staff by 2030.

Latest: 774 roles now announced in total, with 581 to come by 2025. 28 SCS roles. No additional locations.

Department for Work and Pensions

Previously announced: In April, Leeds became DWP’s second HQ, including a ministerial office.

Latest: 400 total relocations, including 215 in the Money and Pension Service. Locations: Leeds, Sheffield, Tyneside, Blackpool, Manchester, Glasgow, Birmingham and Treforest.

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities

Previously announced: In February, MHCLG (now DLUHC) announced its second headquarters in Wolverhampton, with 500 roles planned across the West Midlands by 2025 – including 50% of the most senior positions.

Latest: 917 relocations in total by 2025, including 13 SCS roles. Sites: Wolverhampton, Darlington, Manchester, Coventry, Leeds, Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Tyneside, Liverpool, Belfast and Cardiff.

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office

Previously announced: In March, the FCDO announced plans to strengthen joint headquarters in East Kilbride with 500 extra staff by 2025.

Latest: No further announcements yet and no SCS roles yet confirmed.

HM Revenue and Customs

Previously announced: None. HMRC is undergoing a separate major office rationalisation programme, which is focused on moving staff from local offices to regional hubs

Latest: 2,500 in total, with 500 of these for the 2025 target and the rest for 2030.

HM Treasury

Previously announced: In March, chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that the Northern Economic Campus would be in Darlington. This will have at least 750 roles, including 200-300 Treasury staff.

Latest: 300 in Darlington by 2025, 20 of which will be SCS.

Home Office

Previously announced: In May, the Home Office announced plans to relocate 1,950 roles, with more than 500 to be located at the new Innovation Centre in Stoke-On-Trent.

Latest: 1,950 by 2025, with 80 in SCS. Locations: Stoke-on-Trent, Manchester, Sheffield, Liverpool, Birmingham, Cardiff, Bristol, Durham, Peterborough, Leeds, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Ministry of Defence

Previously announced: In October, the MoD announced its new body, the National Cyber Force, will be located in Samlesbury, Lancashire. It said this would cement the north-west region’s position as the cyber centre of the UK.

Latest: 960 total roles by 2025, with six in SCS. Locations include Edinburgh, Glasgow, Portsmouth, Cambridgeshire and Wiltshire.

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