Balls reveals plan to move civil servants to Yorkshire

WHITEHALL will be forced to set out how it will move jobs to the regions under a Labour government, the shadow chancellor has said.

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls

Ed Balls has committed Labour to moving influential civil servants jobs out of the capital with a promise that every Government department would have to put together a staff relocation plan.

In a speech last night Mr Balls said the party’s “zero-based review” of public spending had found that the proportion of civil service jobs located in London has actually increased since 2010.

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Alongside the relocation promise came a repeat of a previous commitment to block any plans for new metro mayors where local leaders have opposed the plans.

The shadow chancellor said Labour would not force through new local government systems as part of plans to devolve some £30m of Whitehall funding to cities and regions.

Mr Balls said: “We have said our proposals for devolution are conditional on local authorities coming together to collaborate in combined authorities.

“But I do not think it is either necessary or wise for Westminster politicians to start dictating the particular political structures which will best make devolution work in each sub-region.”

He added: “I do not believe it is right for the Chancellor to insist on elected mayors as a condition for devolving powers and resources - a step which many of those areas have rejected in the recent past.

“And I do not think it is right to short-change city and county regions in the North-East, West and South Yorkshire, the East Midlands or here in the West Midlands by offering up a lesser package of devolution if they do not believe an elected Mayor works for them.”

Earlier this month deputy prime minister Nick Clegg revealed he had secured a commitment from Chancellor George Osborne that Yorkshire will be handed new growth powers in the Autumn Statement without any demand of a new metro mayor as seen in Manchester, a model of Government opposed by many councils in the region.

Mr Balls said the party would seek to move influence to the regions, but working instead with the structures already in place.

He added: “Our review – led by the shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Chris Leslie – has found that the proportion of civil service jobs located in London has actually increased since 2010.

“This needs to change if we are to make savings to help get the deficit down and rebalance the economy too.

“So I will ask every government department to draw up a plan for civil service relocation outside London. And a Labour Treasury will set an objective for savings over the course of the next decade.”

Labour has on several occasions in the past promised to move jobs from London, with very limited success.

Bassetlaw MP John Mann has previously said the party should move entire departments out of London and to the North, saying there is no need for the Department for Work and Pensions to be in the south, for example.

The Conservatives have made continued Northern devolution a key part of their election offer, with city growth deals and multi-billion pound infrastructure projects such as high speed rail among their signs of commitments to the regions.

Mr Osborne is expected to use the months between his upcoming Autumn Statement and the next budget to tour the regions setting out tailored local growth plans.