THE hundreds of Treasury jobs moving to Darlington are to be protected against the large civil service cuts that the Government is planning.

Last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave ministers a month to come up with a plan to shed 91,000 civil service jobs to return the Government to 2016 levels of employment, but the 1,700 jobs scheduled to move out of London look as if they are being ringfenced.

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The Northern Echo:

Simon Clarke, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, on a visit to Darlington this week assured The Northern Echo that plans to create an “economic campus” in the town under the Government’s Places for Growth policy would not be affected by the cull.

“We do need to reduce the size of the civil service,” said Mr Clarke, who is the MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland and is effectively the second most senior minister in the Treasury after the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak. “It has grown by 23 per cent since 2016 because of Brexit and Covid and we can’t sustain that. We need to bring it back to pre-crisis levels.

“In doing that, we are very clear we will make sure that the Places for Growth agenda, which is the Darlington initiative, is not harmed by that, which means there will need to be more cuts in London - that’s the reality.

“Our commitment to Places for Growth is absolutely clear.”

Under the policy, the Government is committed to moving 22,000 jobs out of London by 2030. So far 15,000 posts have been identified, going to places like Manchester, Wales, Glasgow, Newcastle, Birmingham and Leeds.

But Darlington is to be one of the biggest beneficiaries with at least 750 Treasury jobs coming – 100 of which are already in place. Four other departments – trade, business, the statistics office and the Competition and Markets Authority – are to bring their officials who work with the Treasury to the campus, and the Department of Culture, Media and Science has announced that it will move 200 jobs to the town.

The Northern Echo:

However, the number of civil servants – who do everything from pay benefits to defend the country to running prisons – has risen from 384,000 employees in 2016, which was the lowest level since the Second World War, to 475,000 by the end of last year. Mr Johnson wants to drastically reduce that, and has hinted that the savings could be used for tax cuts in a bid to ease the cost of living crisis.

There were fears that the relocation of jobs could be affected, although one of the attractions of moving jobs to somewhere like Darlington is that employees would not be paid London-sized salaries.

The five Treasury ministers, including Mr Sunak, are already regularly working in Darlington.

“I’m up here at least once a fortnight,” said Mr Clarke, “because it is vital we send a message to our own employees that people in Darlington are of equal standing and significance as the people in Whitehall.

“The attraction of moving to Darlington is to capture a different set of voices. We want to employ people who have had different experiences, who don’t live in a major global city but who live in a town which is much more like much of the rest of the country. This is levelling up in action.”

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Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen added: “Already more than 100 good-quality, well-paid Treasury jobs have already been secured in Darlington with 80% of local people securing the work, and this is only going to increase.

"Work is ramping up to bring 1,100 civil servants from across even more departments to the town, with roles being advertised as we speak.

“Following the news that civil service numbers were due to be cut, I wasted no time in seeking assurances over the future of the campus.

"I’m pleased that the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Simon Clarke, has now confirmed that this will have no impact on the jobs coming to the region and will instead focus on Whitehall.

"I’m looking forward to seeing even more local people get ahead in successful civil service careers right here as the campus grows.”

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