The decision to create a combined London headquarters and policy centre and close the Sheffield office was announced by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) today (26 May 2016).
This forms part of wider BIS 2020 plans to modernise the way the department works to become smaller, more responsive and efficient, as well as saving around £350 million for the taxpayer by 2020 in operational costs.
This will involve basing all policy roles in London by 2018 and closing the St Paul’s Place office in Sheffield. The decision was made by the Permanent Secretary and his Executive Board following consideration of alternative options and consultation with staff and the departmental Trade Unions, which ended on 2 May.
Everyone affected will be able to stay in post in their current location until January 2018 and if they choose to take up a post in London there will be financial assistance for travel available for the first 3 years. More than 80% of BIS staff will still be based outside the capital.
The support package on offer will include money for re-skilling, career coaching, and time off to look for other jobs. Anyone choosing to leave will benefit from the best exit terms currently available in the Civil Service.
Permanent Secretary Martin Donnelly said:
Creating one policy centre in London and closing the BIS office in Sheffield in 2018 is a decision that has not been made lightly. It remains our top priority that staff are fully supported and briefed on what this means for them and their options.
We have talked and listened to staff and unions. Making a decision which impacts on people’s lives and families is never easy. And we have decided that all staff will be able to stay in their current role and location until January 2018. After that, anyone who wants a role in London will be able to have one, with assistance towards the cost of travel for the first 3 years.
Today’s announcement forms part of wider plans to modernise the way BIS works to become a smaller, more flexible department that will deliver £350 million in savings for the taxpayer by 2020.
BIS 2020 is the transformation programme to deliver BIS’ new business model which will involve reducing operating costs and associated headcount by 30 to 40%; more than halving its 45 public bodies; and rationalising customer support, grant giving and digital service delivery.
It will also involve reducing locations from around 80 sites to 7 regional business centres across the country and further regional presence for those operating at a local level. These business centres will each focus on a key area of business activity, bringing together expertise and helping to build capability.
One of these business centres will be a combined BIS headquarters and policy function in London. Currently BIS’ policy capability is dispersed across 14 offices and today’s decision will see a central policy centre located near ministers, Parliament, and other government departments in Whitehall.