'Any moves to redress the imbalance in public sector activity between London and the South East and the rest of the UK is welcome. However, relocating staff to the regions, and expanding government offices for the regions, is not the same as devolving power and responsibility for policy and public services. Officials answerable to Whitehall are still unaccountable to the people in the regions, wherever they are located.
1) Extract from the chancellor's Budget statement:
'Past Civil Service relocation reviews have included the Fleming Review - and, more recently, the Hardman Review which led to over 10,000 civil service jobs transferred out of London. The Deputy Prime Minister and I now propose that we examine not only the civil service but non-departmental bodies and other public services with the aim of achieving best value for money. Successful relocation out of London by private companies suggests public sector jobs transferred to regions and nations could exceed 20,000 - to the benefit of the whole country. So today we are asking departments to submit updated workforce development plans and asking Sir Michael Lyons - Director of the Institute of Local Government Studies at Birmingham University - to advise with a view to decisions on relocation by the next Spending Review...
'The Secretary for Industry is asking Sir Tom McKillop of Astra Zeneca to advise on the extension of regional science and industry councils; we are devolving more responsibility for small business services and training to the regions...'
2) Chapter 2 of the White Paper, 'Your Region, Your Choice', committed Government departments to considering the balance of their staff between London and the South East and the regions, particularly when deciding where to locate new work, increasing the mobility of civil servants between Headquarters offices and regional offices, and encouraging interchange between the Civil Service and organisations in the regions.
A series of PQs on the progress made in this area since the publication of the White Paper, tabled by Joyce Quin MP, to all relevant departments, is due for answer today.