Some nonsense in the FT Today
The northern England railway town of Darlington has emerged as the most likely location for the Treasury’s new economic campus, despite a last-ditch attempt by senior civil servants to locate the project in a city. Treasury North is set to be the centrepiece of the government’s plans to move 22,000 civil servants out of London by the end of the decade. Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who will make a final decision this weekend, is under pressure from numerous ministers — including Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove and international trade secretary Liz Truss — to plump for Darlington on Teesside. They believe this would be a totemic symbol of prime minister Boris Johnson’s pledge to use the levers of government to improve the economies of England’s towns through a “levelling up” agenda. Darlington returned a Tory MP at the 2019 election for the first time in decades. But permanent secretaries, the most senior civil servants, are urging the chancellor to opt for a larger northern city, such as Leeds or Newcastle, with closer ties to universities, according to Whitehall officials. Sunak will announce the location of Treasury North in next week’s Budget. It will take five years to set up and initially house 750 officials — 400 from the Treasury and the rest from other ministries including the business and trade departments. According to individuals with knowledge of the discussions, Sunak’s shortlist for the campus has narrowed to Darlington, Newcastle, Leeds, and Bradford in West Yorkshire. One government insider said: “Ministers are very keen for departments not to move to the big cities. We are the people’s government, so we have to move government closer to the people in communities that have been overlooked and undervalued in the past.” Ministers believe that youthful civil servants should capitalise on the advantages of living so far out of London, including cheap house prices. They believe civil servants are trying to build up “London-like metropolitan clusters” in major cities rather than helping left-behind towns.
However lets see what Invest in Darlington says
“Darlington is the 7th fastest growing economy in the UK – given our size and geographic location that is no mean feat – but more importantly it’s sustained growth, which comes down to having a sound economic strategy created by businesses to meet their needs”.
- Contributed £2.57bn to the Tees Valley Economy in 2016, and part of the wider Tees Valley economy valued at £12.8bn
- Darlington has seen consistent and sustained growth since 2012
- Over 3,500 new jobs since 2012
- Strategic sectors include – Advanced Manufacturing & Engineering, Logistics, Digital, Construction, Professional and Business Services, Health and Public Services. These sectors are forecast to remain central to the success of Darlington’s economy on into the future
- Over £500 million of public and private sector investment has been attracted into Darlington over the last 5 years – delivering a wide range of transport, infrastructure and physical regeneration schemes designed to boost the economy
- Darlington has a working age population (16 – 64) of 64,800 (Source: NOMIS)
- Darlington has a higher percentage of the working age population educated to degree level than the average for the North East as a whole
- Darlington has a higher proportion of people in management and professional occupations compared to the North East (2015 – 2016)
- In terms of employment concentrations against National and Tees Valley averages Darlington has comparative advantage in a number of sectors, such as, Manufacturing and Engineering, Specialised Construction, Logistics and Financial Service Activities
- The employment rate in Darlington, currently at 74.7%, outperforms all other areas within the Tees Valley (Source: NOMIS)
- Gross disposable Household Income for Darlington residents has grown by over 7.9% (between 2012 – 2015) to £16,139
Hardly forgotten, hardly left behind, its a major growth pole in the North East which the TReasury proposal will further facilitate.