Cabinet Office accelerates plan to move 22,000 jobs outside London

Government also announces three departments will create new second HQs outside London
The Darlington Economic Campus has been the flagship project of the job-relocation programme. Photo: David Dixon/Alamy

By Tevye Markson

12 Dec 2023

The Cabinet Office will accelerate plans to relocate 22,000 civil service jobs out of London, pushing the target forward from 2030 to 2027.

John Glen, the new minister for the Cabinet Office, announced the new goal this morning, saying he would look into whether the overall jobs target could also be increased. 

He said the government has gone “above and beyond” its initial aim, “bringing the best talent from every corner of the UK into government roles, to make our civil service more efficient and representative of the wider public”.

Glen also announced that three more government departments – the Department for Business and Trade, the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology and the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero – will create "second headquarters" outside London to bring them closer to the industries they oversee.

The government launched the Places for Growth programme in 2020, when it committed to moving 22,000 jobs from London to cities and towns across the UK by 2030 – with 15,000 of these to be relocated by 2025.

More than 16,000 jobs have now moved, exceeding the 2025 target two years in advance.

Earlier this year, an internal report was released that revealed the consulting firm McKinsey advised the Cabinet Office that around 60,000 civil service and wider public-sector roles could be relocated from London and the southeast under the Places for Growth programme.

“Government shouldn’t just be around Whitehall,” Glen said. “Why do we need to concentrate it so much in London?

“There’s a lot of appetite for people to live outside of London – often the quality of life is better, the opportunities of balancing life with family life and less commuting is favoured.”

Asked if people outside London made different decisions, Glen said: “Over time we’ll notice more of that…we do want to draw from a wider pool of talent and have geographic diversity.”

The Cabinet Office also announced that Wrexham will get 300 extra civil service jobs, adding to the 30,000 UK government civil servants already working in Wales. The Department of Work and Pensions will recruit 270 more officials in the Welsh city, while the Ministry of Justice said it will place 50 roles in Wrexham rather than in London.

The Cabinet Office has estimated that £30m in economic benefits are generated per 1,000 roles relocated in the Places for Growth programme, due to increased footfall and spending from staff. However, MPs accused the department earlier this year of exaggerating its achievements and failing to clearly set out the evidence base for the programme’s claimed economic benefits.

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