26 September 2023

UNITED KINGDOM: MPs to review plan to close offices

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MPs have launched an inquiry into the United Kingdom Government’s plans for its offices and workforce, examining proposals to close offices, create hubs and move jobs away from London.

The Parliament’s Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) will also analyse the Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the move towards more hybrid working, and look at what impact looming job cuts might have.

Chair of the PACAC, William Wragg said the Government’s plans involved huge sums of public money and had long-term implications for how essential services were delivered by Public Servants.

“Our inquiry will examine the Government’s progress on its targets to save costs and increase sustainability, Civil Service efficiency and diversity,” Mr Wragg said

The Cabinet Office and the Government Property Agency (GPA) have responsibility for policy on the Government’s estate.

The 2018 Government Property Strategy was updated in August and included plans to reduce the Whitehall estate from 36 buildings to 16.

The inquiry is to examine how well the Cabinet Office and GPA are future-proofing the Strategy so that it has the right office space, in the right geographical areas, to meet the needs of the Public Service in the coming years.

It will also consider how effectively the Agencies are working with other Departments to help them achieve their individual estates strategies.

The PACAC is to look at how well the Government’s Strategy takes into account the implications of plans to slash 20 per cent of the Public Service workforce.

As part of the Government’s Places for Growth program to move 22,000 jobs outside London by 2030, including moving 50 per cent of senior Public Service jobs, more than 7,000 roles have been relocated, with new headquarters set up in Glasgow, Darlington and Wolverhampton.

The PACAC will consider if the Government is on track to achieve these targets and what actions are needed to ensure the targets are met.

London, 23 October 2022

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