British Prime Minister Boris Johnson
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson
File Photo/AFP

In what has been dubbed a historic move, the UK government on Saturday confirmed that it will create a second headquarters outside London for its housing ministry in the city of Wolverhampton in central England.

The new HQ will have at least 500 Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) Group roles spread across the region by 2025 - with further increases planned by 2030.

The new hub will include the presence of ministers - making it the first such ministerial office outside of the UK capital with a regular ministerial presence. Senior civil servants will also be based in Wolverhampton, ensuring this becomes a centre for policy development and decision making, MHCLG said.

"As Communities Secretary, I am determined to spread opportunity and prosperity to every part of our nation. That is why I am delighted to be taking the historic step of moving significant numbers of senior roles out of Whitehall and creating the first ever ministerial office outside of Westminster in Wolverhampton - increasing the jobs in the Midlands to over 500," said Robert Jenrick, the minister in charge at MHCLG.

"With a dual headquarters in Wolverhampton my department will not only change where we work but how we work, signalling the end of the Whitehall knows best approach. All of us at the department are looking forward to having the opportunity to work there," he said.

The minister said the aim was to have more local voices at the heart of policy development and delivery, supporting communities more effectively, and to develop greater career options in government outside of London.

"In choosing the city of Wolverhampton we are also backing our great smaller cities, some of which have been neglected for too long. We want to raise their stature, encourage civic pride and commercial success," added Jenrick.

This move, part of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's manifesto commitment to "level up" different parts of the country, signals a culture change in civil service. It marks a significant increase on the 300 roles currently in the region and is part of plans to have at least 800 roles outside of London by 2030 - including 50 per cent of the most senior positions.

These moves will help provide an economic boost to these areas, bring a greater variety of voices and experiences into the civil service and provide improved career paths outside of Whitehall, MHCLG said.

Recruitment is already underway, with 40 roles already relocated to the region in the last 12 months.

MHCLG said it will be working in partnership with other government departments to improve collaborative working and develop greater career options outside London to retain talented civil servants based outside of London.

The new building for the headquarters is expected to be unveiled in the coming months.

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Free Press Journal