26 September 2023

UNITED KINGDOM: ‘Levelling up’ on downhill slide

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Plans to move United Kingdom Public Servants from London to Birmingham and Newcastle have been scrapped, raising questions in Whitehall about the Government’s commitment to its ‘levelling up’ agenda.

Members of Parliament within the ruling Conservative Party urged Ministers to provide justification for the back-track, which was outlined in the Government Property Agency’s (GPA’s) latest annual report.

The GPA said the decision was taken after “a review identified that [the planned relocations] no longer aligned with strategic requirements”.

The Government has a longstanding commitment to move 22,000 Public Servants out of Whitehall by 2030. So far, it has moved several thousand officials to towns and cities including Glasgow, Darlington and Wolverhampton.

Some Public Servants have already been relocated to Birmingham and Newcastle (pictured), but the latest decision means no more are due to be transferred.

In a separate development, a major United Kingdom Department has been rocked by a huge increase in bullying complaints which one insider claimed was the result of ‘dehumanising’ criticism by Ministers and the media.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has reported 28 complaints made by officials in 2022-23 compared to five in 2021-22 and less than five in 2020-21.

An officer who did not wish to be named said criticism of Public Servants had contributed to the five-fold rise.

The officer said Ministers using dehumanising language, such as referring to Public Servants as ‘the blob’ and calling officials who were just trying to do their job ‘activists’, had created an atmosphere of intimidation and undermined officials’ work.

In March, the Conservative Party sent an email to supporters under Home Secretary, Suella Braverman’s name criticising an “activist blob” that included Public Servants.

Party Chairman, Greg Hands later apologised for the email.

Former Minister for Government Efficiency, Jacob Rees-Mogg has also used ‘blob’ as an attack-word to blame Public Servants for the Government decision to abandon plans to axe thousands of European Union laws from the statute books by the end of this year.

Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak and Cabinet Secretary, Simon Case have disassociated themselves from the criticisms.

London, 27 August 2023

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