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Civil Service: Location

Volume 504: debated on Friday 29 January 2010

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what recent assessment he has made of the suitability of the West Midlands as an area to which civil service posts could be relocated. (307311)

[holding answer 16 December 2009]: The Lyons review of 2004 suggested that a Government relocation programme could generate savings over a 15 year period and demonstrated the positive impact that well planned relocations can have on local economies.

Pre-Budget report 2009 announced that nearly 21,000 posts had been moved out of London and the South East by June 2009. Of these, 2,069 have been relocated to the West Midlands.

“Smarter Government”, published in December 2009, went further and announced that Ian Smith would lead a review to look at the efficiencies that moving further posts might bring, outlining how at least 10 per cent. of all civil service posts currently based in London and the South East can be relocated in the medium term.

The terms of reference I have agreed for this review are to produce recommendations on:

Generating savings through relocating further civil service posts out of London and the South East, where there is no operational reason for being there, together with specific proposals to ensure relocation directly contributes to regional and local economic regeneration;

Delivering a step change in the transparency of Government relocations, involving both the development of a transparent long-term pipeline, and launch of a new forum to regularly bring together local areas and OGC to structure relocation propositions that deliver better value for money;

The mechanisms that could be developed to relocate at least 10 per cent. of current posts in the medium term, building on the current Relocation Programme which was created following Sir Michael Lyons’ report in 2004;

What Departments need to do to be able to make the most of opportunities to rationalise their London and South East estate;

How Government can manage its estate more effectively to reduce barriers to relocating staff, while ensuring that up-front costs are minimised; and

What mechanisms and incentives can be introduced to ensure that any relocation programme is self-sustaining and on-going.

The review should also aim to deliver a specific, significant relocation example in time for Budget, demonstrating the seriousness of the Government’s intent.