How Lancashire is losing out on Government jobs pledge

More than 1,000 fewer people are working for the civil service in Central Lancashire than five years ago, despite large rises elsewhere across the UK.

Thursday, 3rd September 2020, 7:00 am
There are around 5,670 fewer civil servants in Central Lancashire than five years ago

The Government has pledged to move more of its bureaucrats away from the capital to help “level up” the country and bring those who help run it closer to the communities they serve.

But new data shows the workforce has grown more rapidly in London than anywhere else across the UK, with the Institute for Government saying influential senior officials have historically been the most difficult to move further afield.

Cabinet Office figures show there were around 5,670 civil servants in Mid Lancashire at the end of March – a decrease of 1,380, or 19.6 per cent, from five years ago.

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That is despite the civil service swelling by 3.9 per cent across the UK over the period, to 456,400 workers.

Across the North West, the workforce grew by seven per cent – the second-highest rate of England's nine regions.

London saw a growth rate of 16 per cent, with its civil servant headcount now making up around a fifth of the UK total.

The figures include civil servants working for government departments, agencies, and non-departmental public bodies in both the UK and regional governments, where they help to develop and implement policies.

In March, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak pledged to relocate 22,000 civil servants from London by 2030.

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove recently said that moving government decision-making away from the capital would help “reflect the full diversity of our United Kingdom”.

The Institute for Government says there are some signs dominance is beginning to shift away from the city, with the biggest growth in civil service employment seen in the South West of England in the last year.

But Sarah Nickson, a researcher at the group, said higher-ranking officials – who tend to be more concentrated in London – have been harder to budge in the past.

She added: “Senior policy jobs are the kind that are needed to shift the dial on decision-making.

“And even once jobs have been relocated, you need a sustained effort to keep them there, and stop them shifting back to London.”

A Cabinet Office spokesman said: "Decision makers should be close to the people they serve and we want to see opportunity fairly distributed across the country.

"These statistics show there are now more civil servants than last year in Scotland, Wales, the Midlands, the South West, the North West and Yorkshire and Humberside.

"But we are not complacent and will continue our work to make sure the civil service represents the whole of the UK, which is why we’ve committed to relocating civil service roles out of central London."