BUSINESS Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng hopes that by shifting 30 per cent of his civil servants outside London, not only will it help “level up” local economies but it will also improve the quality of their decisions.

The Northern Echo: Kwasi Kwarteng Secretary of State at the Department of Business visited Darlington Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT

“I’ve been a minister in BEIS (the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Department) for two years and I’m always struck that you learn far more as a business minister where you are actually close to the businesses,” he said, on a whistlestop tour to announce that 105 posts would be coming out to Darlington.

“When I was energy minister, it was important that I saw offshore windfarms, saw people who were making things, and it is important for officials to have a handle on the country as a whole.

“For too long we have been very, very Whitehall-centred and Westminster-centred, and we’ve got to try and change our thinking in that regard.”

Until his promotion in January, he was Energy Minister which brought him to Teesside on several occasions and showed him how easily accessibly the region can be.

The Northern Echo: Kwasi Kwarteng Secretary of State at the Department of Business visited Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, DBC Leader Heather Scott and MP Peter Gibson in Darlingyon Picture: SARAH CALDECOTT

“The last time I was here we announced GE Renewals was investing £140m in a wind turbine factory, so I’ve come up here a lot, and the area is very well connected to London in terms of the train, it’s a short journey,” he said, explaining why Darlington was chosen as the location for his department’s hub.

He then added: “Also in Darlington you’ve got, and let me say this very clearly, very, very strong local leadership.” He then praised the Conservative leader of Darlington council, the Conservative MP and the Conservative Tees Valley mayor, Ben Houchen, who was recently re-elected with 73 per cent of the vote.

“His tremendous majority is not only an endorsement of what he is doing but it really show, I think, that the local team are the right people to deliver.”

It is interesting to note that the area that is going to benefit from today’s announcement of Home Office jobs being relocated is the West Midlands, which also re-elected a Conservative mayor earlier this month.

Mr Kwarteng is the Conservative MP for Spelthorne in Surrey, and some of his constituents may commute in to fill the sort of jobs he is shifting out to Darlington.

“Many people in Spelthorne understand that for too long London has been this incredible magnet and has been the focus of everyone’s attention,” he said. “I think there’s a wide feeling across the country that we’ve been focused on London. I was born in London and it is fantastic city, but it is not the be all and end all and I think levelling up is long overdue.”

When he began the relocation process in March’s Budget, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said he would be relocating his own desk a couple of days a week to Darlington but his constituency home, as Mr Kwarteng pointed out, is just 20 minutes down the road near Northallerton.

Mr Kwarteng won’t be moored so permanently in the town, but he said: “I will be coming up here a lot. There’s a lot of activity here in the North-East and it’s my job to drive that and to encourage the private sector to invest, and I am confident that it will continue to do so.”