Headlines: March 16th, 2004

Chancellor Gordon Brown in his Budget speech tomorrow is likely to accept the recommendations of Sir Michael Lyons for 20,000 civil servants to move out of London and the South East and for pay rates in the new locations to be aligned with the ‘going rates’ in those areas. Sir Michael has proposed that there should be decentralisation of public sector activities out of London as a means for improving public service efficiency, regional competitiveness, and devolution. The re-location review has also identified 7,000 posts that can be cut. It is thought that this number is the South East component of the 80,000 posts to be cut as a result of the efficiency review by Sir Peter Gershon, Head of the Office for Government Commerce.The Lyons and Gershon reviews are part of an overall strategy for reform announced recently by the Prime Minister when he set out a blue print for a transformed Civil Service capable of serving governments of any colour in the era of globalisation. There will be a move to smaller strategic centers, a focus on professional and technical skills and more emphasis on performance management.

Re-location of the posts to areas of cheaper accommodation, combined with lower salary costs could result in savings of over 2 billion pounds over 15 years. Initial investment would be required and it would take six years for the re-location to break even.

Most of the jobs to be re-located will come from the Department of Work and Pensions, Ministry of Defence, Home Office, Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise. Bristol, Liverpool, Newcastle and Sheffield are among the new locations identified in the report.

Jonathan Baume, of the First Division Association representing senior civil servants, said: “Any relocation needs to be very carefully managed to avoid disruption to individual employees and their families.” Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union said: “Any relocation plans by departments must be rigorously assessed on a case by case basis ensuring that access to services won’t suffer and that people issues are adequately addressed. As in past relocation exercises we expect any movement or redeployment of work to be done on a voluntary basis with decent relocation assistance.”