Bank of England axes offices

Click to follow

Financial Editor

Three hundred and fifty jobs were lost yesterday in the public services financial sector as the Bank of England and the National Statistics Office announced cost-saving exercises.

The Bank said it was closing four regional note-handling centres at a cost of 150 jobs over the next 12 to 18 months as part of a shake-up of its system for distributing banknotes.

Cash handling will cease at Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester and Newcastle, and in future the issuing of bank notes and the disposal of old ones will only be handled at the Bank of England branches in London and Leeds. Offices will be maintained in these cities for monitoring ecomonic trends and new ones will be opened in Cardiff and Nottingham, taking the total around the country to 12.

The newly formed Office for National Statistics said it would shed up to 200 jobs in the coming year as it merges staff at the Central Statistics Office and the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys.

Tim Holt , ONS chief exeutive said he wanted its statistics to be more user-friendly and readily available as well as preserving individual privacy. "I want official statistics to be more widely available and more widely used, not just by businesses and analysts but by ordinary people," he said.

A Bank of England spokesman said the move was being made because the high street banks had taken on much of the work in distributing banknotes previously. The Bank said it intended to eliminate costly duplication between its own arrangements for processing, storing and distributing banknotes and those of the commercial banks . This should save around pounds 4m per year, but will be partly offset by the pounds 1m per year costs of the regional agencies.

Alastair Darling, Labour's City spokesman, said it was essential that the Bank of England maintained its economic intelligence units in the English region as as well as in Wales, Scotland and northern Ireland.

"We want to broaden the basis on which the Bank of England formulates the advice that it gives to the Chancellor on interest rate policy," he said. "We propose to establish a Monetary Policy Board that will include members from the City and from industry in order to reflect views from different parts of the country."

Yesterday's winners and losers


United Utilities 1,700

Bank of England 150

Office for National Statistics 200

Calor* n/a

British Rail 58


Legal & General 400

Daewoo 330

YG-1 230

*300 warned of redundancies to come