Sheffield MP Paul Blomfield has accused a senior civil servant of ‘misleading’ the Commons about the planned closure of the city’s BIS office.
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.
A leaked document revealed the department’s estimated ‘potential savings’ from the Sheffield office closure.
But the BIS permanent secretary Martin Donnelly had previously told Parliament such figures did not exist.
The document reveals that if all of the 247 staff from Sheffield moved to London, it would actually cost the government money.
A spokesman for Mr Blomfield said the government would have to rely on people not taking the opportunity to relocate to London in order to achieve savings.
The Sheffield Central MP has led calls for the permanent secretary to disclose the figures on which the Sheffield closure was based on. He raised the issue as a point of order in parliament yesterday.
Mr Donnelly previously said: “I do not think I can point you to one specific document that covers specifically the Sheffield issue.”
In parliament, Mr Blomfield said: “I have now had access to a document entitled BIS2020 – Finance and Headcount outline which does specifically cover the Sheffield issue, and is, in the permanent secretary’s words, ‘an individual cost-benefit analysis of a static closure’.
“Mr Speaker, can you therefore clarify whether the permanent secretary’s words constitute misleading the House?”
Speaking after the parliamentary exchange, Mr Blomfield said: “This document shows that, on the department’s own figures, moving the Sheffield jobs to London would cost money.
“The permanent secretary now needs to do what he should have done in the first place and explain these figures to the Parliamentary Select Committees whose job it is to scrutinise the business department.
“If the Sheffield office closure is what it now looks like – lazy thinking, which will increase costs while cutting jobs – Mr Donnelly has a lot of explaining to do.”
Meanwhile, next door to the under-threat BIS building a new £130 million office block has finally been completed after hitting delays due to the recession in 2008.
The 10-storey office block was the final piece of the wider ‘Heart of the City’ project.