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Most UK upgrade task forces based in London, figures show | Civil service

Two-thirds of civil servants working on the UK government’s flagship upgrade policy are based in London, figures show.

Two years after Boris Johnson was elected on a promise to improve what he described as ‘outrage’ over stark regional inequalities, 1,929 of the 3,011 officials on the upgrade task force are based in the capital city.

The largest group of civil servants based outside London are 129 civil servants in Wolverhampton, where there is a second headquarters for the government’s upgrading department. After that, the largest groups of mandarins working on politics are found in cities such as Birmingham (118), Bristol (88), Leeds (75), Manchester (62) and Newcastle (62).

The figures were revealed in response to a written question from shadow secretary for the upgrade, Lisa Nandy. She called the situation “frankly insulting.”

In a speech on civil service reform in June 2020, race-to-the-top secretary Michael Gove argued that the government could “literally reduce the distance between the government and the people by relocating the decision-making centers of the government in different parts of our United Kingdom”.

He continued: “Why shouldn’t some of the policy makers intimately involved in reshaping our approach to energy and decarbonising our economy be in Teesside, Humberside and Aberdeen? Shouldn’t those who think about this sector be part of the communities whose jobs depend on making these decisions? »

Nandy said: “We are tired of ministers and civil servants sitting in Whitehall picking winners and losers in our nations and regions. For the department that is supposed to establish this right to take the same arrogant approach is downright insulting.

Although expected in early February, the long-awaited white paper on leveling up has been repeatedly delayed and there is still no set date for its release. The latest launch has been put on hold until Sue Gray has concluded her report on the alleged Downing Street parties.

Gove clashed with the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, over whether new funding should be released. The white paper is supposed to include several “missions” on general topics such as life expectancy and obesity, and to ensure that every child has access to a good school. He is also expected to make new deconcentration proposals, including extending the mayoral model.

Housing Minister Eddie Hughes said: “As of March 2020, 23% of the department’s workforce was outside London; we now have 32% of our workforce outside of London.