The opening of the government’s new Treasury campus in Darlington shows how ‘levelling up’ can benefit communities and boost the local economy, a report has found. 

A study into the civil service relocation to the Darlington Economic campus (DEC) has detailed the positive impacts it has had on the area - but warns it must receive continued support from the government for it to prove successful. 

Senior staff at the Treasury and other key Government departments are on their way to the town as part of levelling up plans to decentralise Government and spread departments around the country. More than 1,100 new government roles will be based at a brand new site especially for the civil service in the town by 2025 – 300 of which will be Treasury roles. 

The Institute for Government (IFG) found the launch of the Darlington site opened doors for local people to work in the civil service, who wouldn’t normally have access to such jobs, and helped improve areas suffering from workforce issues. The IFG interviewed local politicians, businesses and civil servants based in both Darlington and London to find out if the relocation had worked. 

But it noted the campus is still early in its existence. Its continued success will rely on retaining some of the qualities that have contributed to its initial success, as well as ensuring there is a continued senior civil service presence at the site.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt have regularly visited Darlington for work - and have been urged to continue to do so. 

“Against a background of some scepticism the Darlington Economic Campus has had a positive impact,” the report said. “There tend to be trade-offs between locating offices in towns, where policy makers are exposed to different realities and there can be a greater ‘levelling up’ effect, and cities.

“Darlington is proof that well-connected towns with a large travel-to-work area can provide offices with the workforce they need – and its direct connection to London is useful for facilitating ministerial visits.”

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Darlington MP Peter Gibson praised the report, saying: "It is a shining example of real genuine and tangible levelling up in action.

"It has provided renewed pride in our town, it has delivered new and exciting career opportunities, and it has firmly put Darlington on the Map in terms of Policy, influence, and importance.

"Key decision makers and a wide range of ministers are here on a weekly basis. No other town or indeed city can boast the regular presence of the PM, the chancellor and other key Secretaries of a state.

"I am deeply proud of the DEC and what it offers for Darlington both now and into the future.  A lasting legacy for our town - continuing to punch well above our weight."

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Second Permanent Secretary to the Treasury Beth Russell and Jo Crellin, Director General for Trading Systems at the Department for Business and Trade, said: “The Darlington Economic Campus continues to go from strength to strength and we’re pleased it has been recognised as a blueprint for civil service relocation.

“Local people are bringing a wealth of talent and diverse ways of thinking to the table, with their contribution making a real difference in the running of this country.

“We’ll continue to work with the other government departments that have a home at the DEC to build upon these many early successes for the long-term.”