Construction starts at Manchester government hub as ‘cyber corridor’ plans accelerate

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Minister Jeremy Quin breaks ground on new First Street Hub in Manchester. Photo credit: Cabinet Office, UK Gov. Crown copyright 2023.

Minister for the Cabinet Office Jeremy Quin has announced more than 1,000 government roles have moved to Manchester from London as he breaks ground on the Government Property Agency’s new First Street Hub.

The hub, which was announced last summer, will provide a new home for more than 2,500 civil servants, including 700 roles relocated from London under the government’s Places for Growth programme.

More than 1,000 government roles have moved out of the capital and into Manchester since the programme began. Key decision-making teams within departments such as the Home Office, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and the Cabinet Office are now based in the city, and more than 2,500 roles committed to move there by 2025.

The establishment of new Hubs around the UK has enabled the relocations, as jobs previously done in Whitehall are now able to be offered to staff in different parts of the country when London-based staff leave their roles.

Recent figures show around eight out of ten roles relocated under the programme have been filled by local people. For example, Home Office staff tackling exploitation and abuse are now based in the north-west while Cabinet Office officials working on the government’s counter-fraud response are also now working in Manchester. Both departments have moved around 450 roles to Greater Manchester so far.

Government modelling expects that the programme will provide an economic boost of between £260m – £1.4bn in total across the country, helping to deliver on one of the Prime Minister’s key promises to grow the economy.

Latest relocation studies suggest a local economic benefit of £30 million per 1,000 roles relocated, which suggests the moves to Greater Manchester could generate more than £60 million in economic benefits to the area.

Minister for the Cabinet Office Jeremy Quin said:

The new First Street Government Hub will enable hundreds of jobs to move to Manchester and bring millions of pounds to the local economy.

The hub will support the Prime Minister’s top priorities to grow the economy, and its role facilitating Places for Growth is critical to the levelling up agenda.

By putting local voices at the heart of policy-making, we’re moving power out of Whitehall and into the hands of communities across the country.

The north-west has seen the most roles moved under the programme, with around 2,300 government roles previously based in London, including 45 senior civil servant roles, now operating from Greater Manchester, Liverpool, and Sefton.

The government says it is continuing its plans to establish the North West as a ‘cyber corridor’ with the establishment of the National Cyber Force in Lancashire, the region is set to benefit from thousands more cyber jobs.

Once complete the site will be one of the largest for cross-government collaboration and operation outside London, providing office accommodation and different types of areas for people to work and collaborate, as well as enabling efficiencies through digitally-enabled office space.

Clive Anderson, Director of Capital Projects for the Government Property Agency said:

The Government Hubs Programme is creating a smaller, better and greener office estate which supports the Government’s ambition to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The hubs provide modern, inclusive environments where departments are collocated in shared buildings across the UK. This is supporting the Government’s Levelling Up agenda and Places for Growth initiative, encouraging the relocation and creation of jobs outside of London. While returning money to the public purse through cost savings.

Ben Rimmington, a Director General at the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, was previously based in London before moving North to be closer to family. He said:

It has been a really fantastic experience to lead the growth of the BEIS and now DESNZ presence in Salford. I have been hugely impressed by the collective commitment to show that you don’t have to be in London all the time to do even the most senior ‘Whitehall’ jobs, and I think people are seeing that you can now build a rewarding, varied career in the Civil Service without having to move to the South East.

Hayley Rees, Managing Director of PIC Capital, Pension Insurance Corporation plc said:

The development of First Street is a model for how institutional investors like PIC can play a key role in the levelling up agenda and create considerable social value. The site will generate significant investment into the area and offers secure long-term cashflows to back the pensions of our 300,000 policyholders, some of whom live in the region. We hope that the funding model used to finance First Street can be replicated across a range of sectors and projects for other local authorities, as well as housing associations, universities, NHS trusts and other organisations looking to unlock funding for regeneration schemes around the country.

John Hughes, Managing Director at Ask and on behalf of the Ask:Richardson joint venture said:

During a period of unprecedented volatility in both the financial and construction markets driven by rising bond and interest rates, high inflation and construction material and labour shortages, it is a great achievement working collaboratively with both GPA and PIC to overcome these hurdles to ensure this significant project is now taking shape forming another part of the wider First Street estate masterplan.

James Wimpenny, Executive Director for BAM Construct UK, said:

It has been our great pleasure to work with government on several of its offices around the UK and in particular the HMRC. First Street being the latest addition to upgrading various government department’s working environments and making them fit for the future. It is particularly pleasing to us to be able to work with our great partners Ask Real Estate on the scheme, which has itself forged several brilliant new buildings. I look forward to being able to welcome people to their highly sustainable new home in the vibrant heart of Manchester, where we have built so many iconic schemes.

Source: Cabinet OfficeGovernment Property Agency, and The Rt Hon Jeremy Quin MP

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