Government announce plan to move civil servants out of London weeks after Sheffield closure

A plan to move civil servants out of London has been slammed by a Sheffield MP following the earlier announcement that 247 staff will be relocated from the city down to the capital.

Tuesday, 22nd March 2016, 3:11 pm
Updated Tuesday, 22nd March 2016, 3:12 pm
The department for Business, Innovation and Skills situated in St Paul's Place, Sheffield city centre

Heeley MP Louise Haigh has criticised the government after a small line in the recent budget suggested that moving civil servants out of central London will ‘aid the case’ of the ‘Northern Powerhouse’.

Sheffield and South Yorkshire MPs have been keeping up the pressure after the closure of the Business, Innovation and Skills office in St Paul’s Place claiming there was ‘no individual business case’ for the move and that it may cost up to £2.5 million.

Figures show the department leading the ‘Northern Powerhouse’ agenda has 98 per cent of officials and decision-makers based in London.

In the department run by chancellor George Osborne, who has promised to lead a ‘devolution revolution’, the figure climbs to 99 per cent. Neither are said to be affected by the restructuring.

Ms Haigh said: “The Government has the nerve to claim it will create centres of expertise outside of London to contribute to the Northern Powerhouse, when just weeks ago it announced the closure of a centre of expertise in Sheffield which delivered billions to fund world-leading research projects.

“This is a slap in the face for Sheffield from a government fast losing any respect among people here.”

A government spokesman said: “By the middle of this parliament the Ministry of Justice will have a major programme to create substantial centres of expertise outside the capital.

“This will reduce costs, access highly skilled labour markets in the regions and contribute to the Northern Powerhouse.”