Places for Growth: Departments set to smash target as relocations reach 18,000

Almost a thousand jobs from DLUHC alone were moved away from the capital between October and December last year
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By Jonathan Owen

22 Mar 2024

More than 18,000 civil service roles have now been relocated out of London under the Places for Growth programme, the Cabinet Office has revealed. 

The latest update, released yesterday, includes data for the last quarter of 2023.

The Places for Growth programme, which was launched in 2020, initially aimed to relocate 22,000 jobs from London by 2030, a target brought forward to 2027 just a few months ago. The programme now looks way ahead of schedule to meet this target, with more than 2,000 roles relocated in the last quarter of 2023, a 14% increase on the previous quarter's. At the current rate of progress, the target could be reached by the middle of this year – three years ahead of the new schedule.

The target of having 50% of senior civil service jobs located outside the capital is looking more challenging, with just 39 SCS roles relocated away from the capital in the last three months of last year. There are now 31.2% SCS jobs based outside London – a marginal increase on the 30% in the previous quarter.

A dig into the data finds that Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities had by far the biggest share of job moves in the Q4, 2023, with 964 roles being relocated from the capital. This puts DLUHC's total at 1,993 and is a 94% rise from the previous quarter.

Other departments moving a significant number of roles in 2023 Q4 included the Home Office (212) and Department for Transport (191). 

The surge at DLUHC puts it third for overall moves since the scheme started, behind the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Justice. The Cabinet Office comes in at fourth, with the now-defunct Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy fifth. Of the new departments created out of BEIS, the Department for Energy, Security and Net Zero has made the most progress, moving 108 roles since its creation a year ago.

The West Midlands was the region with the biggest influx of civil servants, with 395 relocations, followed by North West England (371) and Yorkshire and the Humber (285). Manchester was the top city for relocations, with 233 civil service jobs moved there, closely followed by Birmingham (230), and Leeds (197).

The north west of England remains the region with the most relocations since 2021, with 3,720 jobs moved there, followed by Yorkshire and the Humber, with 3,392.

The five UK cities that have received the most civil service roles are Leeds, Manchester, Glasgow, Birmingham, and Sheffield. More than 7,300 jobs have been relocated to these cities in total since 2021, with 826 alone relocated in the last quarter of 2023.

Since 2020, more than 3,000 roles have been moved outside of England, with 1,935 moving to Scotland, 1,009 to Wales and 280 to Northern Ireland.

The government also announced today that it has submitted a planning application for a new £118m "state-of-the-art" hub in Darlington, which will become the home of 1,450 civil servants and the permanent base of the Darlington Economic Campus.

Construction is expected to begin later this year and be completed in early 2027. Some 762 roles have already been moved to Darlington to date, with 103 alone in the last three months of 2023. The new hub will increase the total number of Darlington-based civil servants to more than 2,300.

Cabinet Office minister John Glen said: “Our plans to move more government roles outside of London continue to progress at pace; month by month, we are seeing the transformation of our civil service into an organisation that better reflects the perspectives of people from across the United Kingdom."

Glen said: “We also remain focused on our commitment to ensure half of all UK-based senior civil servants based outside of London by 2030 – creating opportunities for talent from all corners of the country to rise to the highest levels of the civil service.”

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