27 September 2023

UNITED KINGDOM: Decentralising plan a failure — report

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A new report claims that the United Kingdom Government’s much-heralded plan to move more Public Servants out of London is “going backwards”,

In its report, the Onward think tank said that since 2018 the number of Public Servants in London has grown twice as fast as in regions outside the capital.

It also found that more than nine in 10 Public Servants employed by the Treasury and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy worked in London.

“Despite warm words and good intentions, efforts to decentralise the Civil Service are going backwards,” Onward said.

“Successive Governments have tried to shift the centre of Government’s gravity, but the Civil Service remains as centralised as in the mid-1970s.

“Emergency recruitment to respond to Brexit and the pandemic have further concentrated the Civil Service in London, despite well-intentioned plans to open a regional hub network,” it said.

The Government pushed back against Onward’s interpretation of the data, arguing “these figures do not fully reflect the performance of our program to move 22,000 Civil Service roles out of London by 2030”.

A spokesperson maintained the 10-year program was making good progress, with more than 2,000 roles already relocated and 15,000 roles committed to be moved.

“Departments have moved quickly to establish second headquarters outside of London, including in Darlington, Glasgow and Wolverhampton,” the spokesperson said.

London, 10 February 2022

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