Dear Secretary of State,
I am writing following the shocking announcement today that you have decided to close the St Paul’s Centre site of the Department for BIS in Sheffield and relocate the jobs to a central HQ in London.
This appears to be in direct contravention of two distinct Government policies.
Firstly, that of the much-vaunted ‘Northern Powerhouse’, which seeks to build industry and growth out of London and the South East. These jobs in Sheffield are currently helping our local economy grow, providing support and intervention for local businesses as well as strategic expert advice for the region. I fail to see how your Government can continue to claim that you are taking any steps to improve the North whilst you relocate jobs from an economy such as Sheffield’s to the overheated job market of Central London.
Secondly, as Shadow Minister for the Civil Service, it was my understanding that it was this Government’s policy to rebalance the civil service out of London; a policy which I welcome. Francis Maude claimed in the last Parliament that he would oversee an end to ‘Whitehall palaces’. Again, your announcement today seems to directly contradict Government policy.
Furthermore, there is a major public purse issue of employing yet more civil servants in Central London. Clearly, I do not believe that workers in Sheffield are worth less than their London counterparts but the fact remains that civil servants are considerably more expensive to hire in Central London so I fail to understand, from any angle, the rationale behind your decision.
Finally, can you confirm that the report entitled ‘BIS 2020 What, Why, When, How’ was authored by McKinsey and that they charged £199,000 for their services. How many McKinsey staff were employed on the writing of this report, how many hours did they work and what remit were those consultants given by your department?
I would be grateful for a response to these points and for an urgent rethink of this rash decision; a decision that will not only harm my city but the long-term health of the economy as a whole.
Louise Haigh MP