London Government workers ‘three times more expensive to employ’ than under-threat Sheffield staff

St Paul's Place, Sheffield
St Paul's Place, Sheffield
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Almost 250 Government workers in Sheffield who face losing their jobs and having their work moved to London cost one-third of the amount to employ as their counterparts in the capital.

The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills is planning to shut its Sheffield city centre department by 2018 - despite its most senior civil servant Martin Donnelly admitting there is no business case to support the move.

In answer to a question to Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield, it has now been revealed that office costs for Business department employees are less than one-third of their counterparts in the capital.

Mr Blomfield had asked what the annual cost per employee is of rent, rates and maintenance for the department’s Sheffield and London offices.

A written response by business minister Jo Johnson said: “The annual cost per employee at St Paul’s Place, Sheffield is £3,190 and at 1 Victoria Street, London is £9,750.”

Mr Blomfield today said he was not surprised at the figures.

He said: “The figures confirm what I always expected - that it is substantially more expensive to employ people in London than in Sheffield.

“It is another nail in the coffin in the argument to close the office.

“The more the decision is open and transparent, the more we believe the Government will have to rethink.

“It doesn’t make sense even on their own terms. The Business department is having to make extraordinary savings but these are not cuts - this is moving jobs to London.”

A consultation on the planned closure is running until early May, with a meeting of the Business, Innovation and Skills Executive Board taking place on May 10 to decide whether to proceed with the proposals.

Mr Donnelly, Permanent Secretary of the department, has previously said the move is based on having to cut £350m and calculations were based on efficiency savings of having people working in one place in London.

But when questioned by MPs about the exact cost of moving people out of Sheffield, Mr Donnelly said there was no analysis available yet for the closure of the office or staff redundancies. He was also unable to say how many of the posts moved to London are occupied by those working on Government’s Northern Powerhouse project.

He said: “It’s about the efficiency with which we can work when we have people in one place.”