Budget 2021: Chancellor confirms home of Treasury's northern base

Darlington will be home to the "economic campus", Rishi Sunak says
Photo: Damian Spellman/PA Archive/PA Images

Darlington will be the home of the Treasury’s new northern base, the chancellor has confirmed.

The hub, which was revealed in a leaked video this morning before being confirmed in Rishi Sunak’s Budget statement, will also include offices for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

In the video sent to civil servants, obtained by Sky News, Sunak said the County Durham town had been selected “after a lot of thought and energy” to be the site of the planned “economic campus”.

“We have decided to put the new economic campus in Darlington and I am really excited,” Sunak told officials in the video.

Plans to establish a new hub in the north, along with two other Treasury offices outside London, were announced a year ago as part of the government’s “levelling up” agenda to rebalance regional inequality. Sunak said at the time that a fifth of Treasury civil servants would move to the hub, where they would be "joined by members of other economic-facing departments".

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove has also presented relocations and regional hubs as an important part of his civil service reform agenda, saying he wants more officials “closer to where the action is”.

Leeds, Bradford and Newcastle had also reportedly been in the running for the new office. In October, it was reported that designs for a building at Teesside Airport on the outskirts of the County Durham town had been submitted to No.10 for consideration.

While it lost out on the campus, Sunak announced in the Budget that Leeds will be the site of a new UK Infrastructure Bank, which will have £12bn of equity and debt capital to finance private sector and local authority infrastructure projects around the country. 

The bank will benefit from the city’s position as “an established financial hub with excellent transport links across the UK”, according to the Budget red book.

In another economic boost to the region, Humber has been selected as one of eight sites for the government’s new freeports, alongside East Midlands Airport, Felixstowe and Harwich, Liverpool City Region, Plymouth and South Devon, Solent, Teesside and Thames.

The freeports, which will contain areas of extra tax reliefs, customs benefits and wider government support for businesses, aim to attract investment, trade and jobs and will begin operating later this year.

Additional measures to support the government's levelling-up agenda include the allocation of £1bn from the existing Towns Fund to 45 towns across the UK.

And a new £150m Community Ownership Fund will help communities “take ownership of pubs, theatres, shops, or local sports clubs at risk of closing, Sunak said. Groups will be able to apply for up to £250,000 of matched funding to buy local assets to run as community-owned businesses.

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