‘Hammer blow’ for hundreds of Sheffield civil servants as jobs moved to London

The Government has announced the closure of the Dept of Business, Innovation and Skills based at 2 St Pauls Square in Sheffield
The Government has announced the closure of the Dept of Business, Innovation and Skills based at 2 St Pauls Square in Sheffield

Hundreds of Sheffield civil servants have been dealt a ‘hammer blow’ as it was announced a government department is to move their jobs to London.

Almost 300 people who work at the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills office in St Paul’s Place face losing their jobs as the site is shut by 2018 and their roles moved to London in a ‘cost-saving’ move.

Shocked staff were told the surprise news yesterday morning by BIS Permanent Secretary Martin Donnelly, who visited Sheffield to make the announcement.

The offices are understood to currently employ 290 people, with 247 due to be left from April after pre-planned redundancies are made.

A senior manager, who asked not to be named, said: “Staff were totally shocked. It was an absolute hammer blow.”

The employee added: “People were shocked and hurt but asked some very sensible, professional questions about the rationale for this.

“None was forthcoming.”

The news came less than 24 hours after Sheffield Council announced it intends to axe 400 jobs to help deal with £50m cuts.

Marion Lloyd, from the PCS union, said the impact on the Sheffield economy would be ‘massive’ and efforts will now be made to fight to save the Sheffield BIS office.

Sheffield MP and former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said: “I understand that Government departments have to reshape to save money, but centralising departments in London is the wrong thing to do.

“This flies directly in the face of the Northern Powerhouse agenda.”

Julie Dore, leader of Sheffield Council, said: “The Government must immediately drop this proposal, it is appalling that they are moving jobs out of Sheffield into London.

“It makes no sense to take these jobs from the north and give them to the south.”

An email sent to staff suggests the closure will take place by January 2018 as the department starts to operate with a ‘smaller workforce and more streamlined structures’.

A spokesman for BIS said it is not yet known how many jobs will be lost, with staff potentially being offered the opportunity to relocate. The reorganisation will see a combined central HQ and policy centre created in London, along with six ‘business centres’ around the country.

Mr Donnelly said: “The decision to close Sheffield has not been taken lightly.”