Government signal possible U-turn on Sheffield jobs move to London

Government staff are currently based at St Paul's Place in Sheffield city centre
Government staff are currently based at St Paul's Place in Sheffield city centre
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The Government has signaled a possible U-turn on plans to move jobs from Sheffield to London.

The Government has signaled a possible U-turn on plans to move jobs from Sheffield to London.

Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield. Picture: Parliament TV

Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield. Picture: Parliament TV

Business Minister Nick Hurd has corrected an answered he gave to Sheffield MP Paul Blomfield in October 2016 on plans to move the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy department, formerly known as BIS, 170 miles down the M1.

The Minister said the correction was down to 'recent machinery of Government changes'.

Last July Mr Blomfield asked the Minister whether Sheffield staff working on industrial strategy would be based outside of London, following months of campaigning against the department’s decision to centralise policy roles in the capital.

In October, Mr Hurd answered by reiterating the Government’s commitment to locating policy roles, including those working on industrial strategy, in London.

However, Mr Hurd tabled a ‘Ministerial Correction’ to his previous answer, and said that, following the reorganisation of Government departments under Theresa May, the new BEIS department would be considering the right structure for the department.

Mr Blomfield, MP for Sheffield Central, who secured a National Audit Office inquiry into the decision to move Business Department jobs out of Sheffield, has welcomed the Minister’s words.

He said: “I’m disappointed it has taken the Business Department six months to give an accurate answer to my Parliamentary Question. But if the delay and the correction mean they are properly considering the value of having policy making in Sheffield and other regions outside London I welcome that. The Department now needs to provide clarity and seize the opportunity to benefit from the additional perspective and talent Sheffield can provide, not to mention the savings to the public purse.”

Mr Hurd originally said:"The Department announced its decision earlier this year to create a combined headquarters and policy function in London, to deliver a simpler, smaller department that is more flexible and responsive to stakeholders and businesses by 2020. This involves basing all policy roles in London by 2018, which will include those roles working on Industrial Strategy issues"

But the Minister changed his answer and the new response read: "Given the recent machinery of Government changes, over the coming months BEIS will be considering what the right structure for the Department should be, in order to deliver its objectives."

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