HMRC begins move into Birmingham hub

DWP and VOA staff will also occupy the 3 Arena Central building
Artist's impression of 3 Arena Central. Image: Miller Developments

HM Revenue and Customs has begun moving civil servants into a government hub in Birmingham, four years after a lease was signed on the building.

The department is the first to move staff into the 3 Arena Central office in Birmingham city centre.

The Valuation Office Agency will shortly move officials into the 13-storey building, and later this month they will later be joined by some 800 service delivery staff from the Department for Work and Pensions.

When fully occupied, the building will host around upwards of 4,000 civil servants.

The new office is part of the Government Hubs Programme, which aims to radically reduce the number of government buildings from around 800 to 200 over the next five years through the consolidation of smaller offices operations into regional centres, at least half of which will include bases for HMRC.

The government signed a 25-year lease on the building in 2017, and has since completed fit-out works to get it ready for occupation.

When the deal was signed, Caroline Noakes, who was minister for government resilience and efficiency at the Cabinet Office at the time, said the hub would be “not just be a catalyst for regeneration, but will also mean that the civil servants working within it are equipped to deliver the best quality service to the taxpayer”.

The move had been set to begin last year, but was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. 

A spokesperson for Kier Property, which owns the development, told Insider Media: "Kier Property acquired Arena Central Developments Limited in March 2019 and this brought with it the work to complete 3 Arena Central which was pre-let to HMRC and DWP.

"The tenant has subsequently completed their fit out works and, from late September 2021, staff have started working from the building. We understand that more than 4,000 civil servants will use 3 Arena Central as their office."

HMRC’s move into the office at the end of last month came as its permanent secretary Jim Harra wrote to staff saying they would all be expected to agree a plan with their manager to return to the office.

His all-staff memo said staff would be office based for an average of one day a week.

He acknowledged there would likely be “teething problems” as people adjusted after working remotely, adding: “Please help your estates colleagues and location leads, who are doing an excellent job of coordinating all this for us, by reporting any issues that you see, and being patient as we move to our new arrangements.”

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