Civil service ‘must escape London bubble’

12 Apr 19

The head of the civil service has outlined plans to move parts of the organisation outside of London.

John Manzoni, chief executive of the civil service and permanent secretary at the Cabinet Office, highlighted the need to spread beyond the south-east “bubble”, at a think-tank event today.

At a Reform think-tank briefing today, Manzoni said that for “too long” civil servants have been like “a moth to a light bulb” around Westminster.

Manzoni noted that to “fully connect” the civil service to the public there was a need to spread its presence across the country and create a more diverse workforce.

“Young people in the civil service are dying for us to create more bases outside of London, and there are a lot of advantages to that,” he told delegates.

Manzoni suggested moving beyond the “south east bubble” would allow government departments to connect with the public and said that currently “we don’t know what the country is feeling”.

To tackle this, Manzoni said: “We are going to set targets for departments to move more senior civil servants outside of London.”

He noted that the Cabinet Office will look towards the Spending Review – happening “at some point this year” – to make these proposals. 

Manzoni also expressed determination to create a more diverse workforce adding: “The diversity of the civil service has been rising steadily since 2010, and today it stands at a record level.”

But the civil service chief said he was “worried” about anger among staff from ethnic minority backgrounds who felt unable to reach senior positions.

“The civil service has to reflect this country in its diversity,” he said.

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