HC Deb 23 January 1991 vol 184 cc217-8W
Mr. Andrew Mitchell

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what progress Departments have made under the Government's relocation policy.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard

My predecessor informed the House on January 1990 that, in accordance with the policy announced by the then Paymaster General on 31 March 1988, Departments had already announced decisions to relocate well over 16,000 posts away from the south-east. There are no central targets or preferred locations under this policy. Departments review the location of their work systematically, with a view to finding easier labour markets and better value for money. The guidelines require Departments to consult the regional policy and territorial Departments and DOE Property Holdings about potential relocation venues, and to report progress to the Treasury in the annual public expenditure survey.

By the end of June 1990 Departments had identified nearly 7,000 further posts for location or relocation away from the south-east, bringing the total since 1988 to nearly 23,000. More than 1,000 others have been identified for cost-effective transfer within the south-east, and some 15,000 have been reviewed but judged not suitable for relocation at this stage. Almost 13,000 are still at various stages in the review process. When these reviews are complete, over 51,000 posts in the south-east will have been subject to review—equivalent to 24 per cent. of total posts in the region; and further posts will be reviewed in the coming year.

Three quarters of the posts identified for transfer are destined for locations within assisted or urban programme areas and at least half are expected to be filled through local recruitment. Around 6,000 posts have already been moved since the beginning of 1988, which exceeds the figure for the whole of the period 1974–79 and compares favourably with the 12,000 posts moved or created outside the south-east between 1979–1987.

Successful relocation requires careful planning. Departments exchange experience and, where appropriate, co-ordinate action with other Departments, with some transfers between Departments for staff not wishing to move and with good use being made of the extra flexibilities now available in the personnel management field.