Departments to beef up civil service presence in Birmingham, Leeds and Scotland

DfT opens new offices in English cities, while Cabinet Office and FCDO look north of the border
DfT will move around 650 jobs to Leeds (pictured) and Birmingham. Photo: PA

Around 1,650 civil service jobs are moving to Birmingham, Leeds, Glasgow and East Kilbride over the next few years in the latest wave of relocations.

The Department for Transport has announced plans set up new offices in Birmingham and Leeds, while the Cabinet Office and Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office are moving jobs to Scotland.

The offices in are expected to move around 650 jobs to the cities. Ministers will be expected to spend a “significant amount” of time at what DfT is calling its new Birmingham headquarters, it said in an announcement today.

However, the announcement falls far short of the prime minister's pledge in October to move "departments of state, ministers, private offices and all, to great northern cities and regions that represent the future of this country".

Leeds was one of a handful of cities that were reportedly shortlisted to host a major new northern base for the Treasury, as part of the exchequer’s plan to move thousands of jobs out of the capital. However, it lost out to Darlington in this month’s Budget.

The plans are part of the government’s drive to move 22,000 civil service roles out of London to other parts of the UK by 2030.

DfT has started recruiting for around 100 in Birmingham and Leeds so far. They include senior civil servant posts that would otherwise be based in London, the department said.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said the announcement marked a “a historic move for the department and part of a significant wider culture change across Whitehall”.

“Transport is absolutely vital to the local communities we serve and having hubs in major cities like Birmingham and Leeds will offer a fresh perspective on how we can better serve these areas,” he said.

DfT’s announcement came after the Cabinet Office announced plans to move 500 jobs to Glasgow by 2025, and the FCDO to move a similar number to East Kilbride.

The Cabinet Office based will be a “second flagship headquarters” and will build on the presence of the team preparing for the climate-change conference COP26 team. It will include officials from “a range of civil service functions”, a spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, the FCDO is set to beef up its presence in East Kilbride by around a third. By 2025 there will be more than 1,500 officials at the department’s Scotland base, up from around 1,000 now.

“This underlines the immense contribution that the Scottish people make to the UK’s foreign policy and international development work as we tackle global challenges as one United Kingdom,” the spokesperson said.

Announcing the Cabinet Office and FCDO moves, Scotland secretary Alister Jack said the decision to increase the UK government’s footprint there was “a demonstration of our unwavering commitment to strengthening the United Kingdom”.

However, the FDA union said the plans did not go far enough. “While the Cabinet Office have confirmed that there will be senior civil servant roles based in Glasgow, they have only committed that ministers will ‘spend regular time’ there. This isn’t good enough,” assistant general secretary Amy Leversidge said.

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