Thousands of civil service jobs set to move from Whitehall to east London

Cabinet Office says "around 5,700 full time civil and public servants" to make the move from central London to Canary Wharf by 2018

By Matt Foster

06 Dec 2016

Almost 6,000 full time civil service and public sector jobs are set to relocate from Whitehall to London's Canary Wharf over the next few years, under plans unveiled by the Cabinet Office.

The Government Property Unit on Tuesday announced that one of its new "Government Hubs" – buildings serving a number of government departments in one location – will be based at 10 South Colonnade, Canary Wharf, a 25-year-old site that was part of the first wave of Canary Wharf development.

According to the Cabinet Office, "around 5,700 full time civil and public servants" will make the move from their offices in Whitehall to the 50,354 square meter East London address by 2018.

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The move comes as part of the government's wider aim of closing 75% of its offices by 2023, with smaller local sites phased out in favour of larger hubs, which are likely to serve several departments.

This summer's Civil Service Workforce plan, setting out HR strategy for the government over the next four years, also emphasised the use of smart working in the new offices, saying improvements in technology would allow the "untethering" of staff from their desks to create "truly shared spaces where departments can work effectively together".

HMRC last year became the first department to unveil a mass programme of office closures as part of its move to the new model.

Minister for the Cabinet Office, Ben Gummer, said the new Canary Wharf hub would "provide a better working environment for many London-based civil servants at considerably less cost to the taxpayer".

The government has not provided detail on rates for the 15-year lease from Barclays, the current occupiers of the site, but said it was "in line with the vast majority of large property deals in the UK" and stressed that lease payments would be "taxable in the UK".

Gummer added: "We have some of the most talented people in the UK working in the civil service and it is right that we provide them with the right environment so that they can serve the public to the best of their abilities.

"We will be replicating this approach across the United Kingdom, putting right the historic mistake of forcing public servants to work in ugly and expensive buildings."

The Cabinet Office said the East London hub had been chosen because of both its lower cost when compared to Whitehall and its "exceptional public transport connections to the rest of London and the UK", pointing out that the area is set to benefit from the 2018 opening of the Crossrail train line. It is also served by the Docklands Light Railway.

The department promised detail on the departments set to make the move "in due course".

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