The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government will open a Wolverhampton outpost that will see more than 500 departmental staff based in the West Midlands by 2025, secretary of state Robert Jenrick has confirmed.
Jenrick said MHCLG’s new Black Country headquarters would have a regular ministerial presence, in a first for a departmental centre outside London. He added that senior civil servants would also be based in the Wolverhampton office, ensuring it becomes a hub for policy development and decision making.
MHCLG's annoucement follows reports in October that the creation of a Wolverhampton base had Jenrick's backing. The ministry did not identify the building that will host its new West Midlands HQ, saying an announcement would be made in the spring.
However a strong contender is the under-construction i9 building in the city centre. The development is being supported by funding from Wolverhampton City Council that was committed with the specific aim of attracting government jobs to the area. The i9 building is due to complete in the summer.
The MHCLG group already has around 300 staff in the West Midlands. It said that the Wolverhampton office would lead to a “significant increase” on that figure and was a “historic move” that signalled a culture change in the civil service.
Jenrick said that as communities secretary he was determined to spread opportunity and prosperity to every part of the nation.
“I am delighted to be taking the historic step of moving significant numbers of senior roles out of Whitehall and creating the first ever ministerial office outside of Westminster in Wolverhampton,” he said.
“With a dual headquarters in Wolverhampton my department will not only change where we work but how we work, signalling the end of the Whitehall-knows-best approach.
“All of us at the department are looking forward to having the opportunity to work there.”
Jenrick said ministers recognised that having more local voices at the heart of policy development would mean communities could be supported more effectively and that greater career options in government would be developed outside of London.
“In choosing the city of Wolverhampton we are also backing our great smaller cities, some of which have been neglected for too long,” he said.
“We want to raise their stature, encourage civic pride and commercial success.”
Jenrick was born in Wolverhampton and went to the independent Wolverhampton Grammar School. The city is roughly half way between his home in Herefordshire and his Newark constituency in Nottinghamshire.
The government’s plans to move 22,000 civil servants out of the capital by the end of the decade also include a new base for HM Treasury in the North of England – with Darlington among the contender towns – and a Manchester office for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.