Abstracts: September 11th, 2003

This interim report by Sir Michael Lyons identifies some of the issues surround re-location from London and the South East which will be considered in the final report to be presented to the Deputy Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer in November 2003. The ambition of Ministers is to relocate significant amounts of activity to other parts of the UK, in order to deliver greater value for the taxpayer, improve service delivery and to make Government more responsive to differentiated needs across the country. Early indications are that at least 20,000 posts can be re-located.Some 230,000 civil servants and other national Government workers are in London and the South East – about a third of the total. There is a strong economic case for re-location. A call center work station costs some 3000 pounds less per year in the regions. Office rents are typically 53 pounds in London compared to 27 pounds in the regions. Recruitment and retention in London is more difficult than in regional offices despite paying 20 per cent more at junior grades and at least 10 per cent more at senior grades. The average house price in greater London is some three times greater than the average for the north. The average travel to work time in London is 59 minutes, compared to 32 in Birmingham and 28 in Leeds.

The modern public sector is changing fast and future dispersals of Government activity are likely to go alongside reforms that reduce the overall size of the public sector, change the character of its work and provide a larger role for the private sector in delivery of public services. Modern communications, for example, videoconferencing and the internet, have altered the possibilities for organizations to deliver effectively across distances.

Heads of Government Departments and other public bodies have been asked to develop relocation proposals that fully reflect the scope for redistributing activity. Sir Michael is developing a systematic and rigorous framework to assess Departmental submissions and it will be used to ensure that the proposals put forward fully exploit opportunities for improving public services and reducing costs, particularly those offered by joint working between Departments.

The report is available at: http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/media//8A6F4/InterimReport_pubsec_reloc09