More than 1,000 civil service jobs to be relocated to Scotland, government says

Gove says move will create ‘closer collaboration between Scotland’s two governments’

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Monday 15 March 2021 07:44
Today's daily politics briefing

More than 1,000 civil service jobs are to be relocated to Scotland in the coming years, the government has announced.

Alongside a previously announced secondary Cabinet Office headquarters in Glasgow with 500 staff by 2024, officials said more than 500 civil servants from the Foreign Office would be stationed north of the border by the middle of the decade.

Forming part of Boris Johnson’s long-awaited integrated review of security, defence and foreign policy – published this week – Dominic Raab will confirm the relocation of staff to his department’s office in East Kilbride, taking total number of civil servants there to 1,500.

The foreign secretary said civil servants in Scotland “are at the forefront of delivering the UK’s diplomatic clout” as the government prepares to host the crucial climate change summit – Cop26 – in Glasgow this autumn.

He claimed: “There can be no clearer demonstrations of the commitment to our joint HQ in East Kilbride than today’s announcement that an extra 500 Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office jobs are coming to Scotland.

“This will further ensure the civil service represents all parts of the UK and will be a boost to the Scottish economy.”

However, GMB union Scotland secretary Gary Smith said that while the jobs and investment were welcome, they “won’t resolve the many deep rooted problems that exist”.

“It makes sense for the civil service to be spread out,” he said. “You can’t level up the country if its jobs and wealth are concentrated in a few areas, and Glasgow and the west certainly needs levelling up.”

The move also comes amid concern in government over the future of the union, with Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP expected to demand a second independence referendum if her party emerges victorious in May’s elections, with a majority at Holyrood.

Michael Gove added that the Cabinet Office’s secondary HQ in Glasgow would “co-locate the engine room of the UK government in Scotland, bringing decision makers closer to the communities they serve”. 

The cabinet minister added the move will ensure “closer collaboration between Scotland’s two governments as we tackle the Covid-19 pandemic together and work to build a sustainable recovery”.

“Not only will this bring new jobs and investment to Scotland, it will strengthen the diversity of the UK civil service, ending the Westminster knows best approach to policy-making and ensuring Scottish voices shape everything we do,” he said.

Alex Chisholm, chief operating officer for the civil service and Cabinet Office permanent secretary, said: “The civil service needs to draw on the talents and skills of individuals and communities across the UK.

“With the Cabinet Office establishing our second headquarters outside of London, we are opening up opportunities for our existing staff to develop their careers, while also drawing on a new and diverse talent pool.”

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