Top civil servant ‘telling MPs half-truth’ on 250 Sheffield job cuts

Martin Donnelly
Martin Donnelly
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A top civil servant has been accused of telling MPs a ‘half-truth’ on plans to axe 250 Government jobs in Sheffield and move the work to London.

The business department’s top official Martin Donnelly has refused to release an internal report on the potential costs of the move to MPs - but has told them closing the Sheffield office and not replacing any of its staff would save around £14.5m.

Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield said an accurate picture was not being presented to MPs as Mr Donnelly has not revealed what it would cost to employ replacement staff down in London, which is the department’s plan.

He said: “This is a half-truth when we want the full story. It’s not just how much Sheffield costs, but how much more expensive it will be to move those posts to London.

“So far we’ve discovered that, in rent, rates and maintenance alone, it’s going to be an extra £1.6m a year. After salary and other costs it could be around £2.5 million.

“Ministers said they’re confident that many of the workers will move with the jobs down to London. The costings in Mr Donnelly’s latest letter deliberately disregard this. I will not let them get away with this. I want the whole truth so that I can make my case to keep the jobs in Sheffield.”

Fellow South Yorkshire MP John Healey said today the Government must produce the business case behind the plans.

He said: “It is now time for the Government to come forward with answers on why this decision was taken.

“The suggestion that there has been unwillingness to explain this move is deeply concerning and will be met with frustration in South Yorkshire.

“The loss of up to 250 jobs in the region is something that should have been subject to a thorough financial analysis, and that must now be produced.

“We were told that this decision would save money and if this is not the case, the people of South Yorkshire need to know why.”

The Sheffield office is set to be shut by 2018, with a final decision on whether the move will go ahead being made next month.

Mr Donnelly is to face MPs on the Public Accounts Committee next week to further explain the intended plans.

He said this week that the final costs of closing the Sheffield office and moving the work to London are still being worked out as ‘final decisions on headcount have not yet been taken’.