Almost 250 jobs at risk in Sheffield as Government office closure announced

St Paul's Place in the city centre, picture in 2014

St Paul's Place in the city centre, picture in 2014

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A Government office employing almost 250 people in Sheffield is to close, it has been announced.

The Business, Innovation and Skills office in St Paul’s Place is to be shut by 2018 as part of a move to reduce the department’s operating costs - with jobs being moved to London.

The 247 people who currently work at the offices were told the news this morning in a visit by BIS Permanent Secretary Martin Donnelly.

The move has been condemned by Sheffield MP and former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg.

Mr Clegg said: “I understand that Government departments have to reshape to save money, but centralising departments in London is the wrong thing to do. This flies directly in the face of the Northern Powerhouse agenda.

“I want to be clear that no one ever put this to me in Government and I would not have agreed to it if they had.”

Councillor Julie Dore, Leader of Sheffield City Council, said: “The Government must immediately drop this proposal, it is appalling that they are moving jobs out of Sheffield into London and is on top relocating other civil service jobs out of Sheffield over the past five years.

“It makes no sense to take these jobs from the north and give them to the south. I am writing to the Secretary of State making it clear that this is unacceptable and yet again the actions of this government speak far louder than their empty words about commitment to the north.”

An email sent to staff and seen by The Star suggests the closure will take place by January 2018 as the department starts to operate with a ‘smaller workforce and more streamlined structures’.

A spokesman for the department said it is not yet known how many jobs will be lost, with staff potentially being offered the opportunity to relocate.

As part of the reorganisation of the department, a combined central HQ and policy centre will be created in London, along with six ‘business centres’ around the country.

The location of the business centres is yet to be announced.

Mr Donnelly said: “Today’s announcement is part of implementing our BIS 2020 strategic plans to modernise the way we work, reduce operating costs and deliver a simpler, smaller department that is more flexible and responsive to stakeholders and businesses.

“Our operating model needs to be designed in a way that works for this smaller workforce with more streamlined structures.

“The decision to close Sheffield by 2018 has not been taken lightly. The unions are being consulted and will be involved throughout the process.

“It is my top priority that all our staff are fully briefed and consulted on the process. We will provide comprehensive support to all those facing a potential change or loss of job.

“In relation to the new business centres, we will be working closely with our Partner Bodies over the coming months to develop firm plans for their office locations.”

The Sheffield offices are located within the landmark £130m St Paul’s Place development in the city centre.

BIS currently occupy 2 St Paul’s Place, with DLA Solicitors, The Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays Bank in 1 St Paul’s Place.

The third phase of the project, overlooking Peace Gardens and Millennium Square, is due to be completed within the next few months.

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