London Treasury
An initial 750 staff from the Treasury in London would be relocated under the plans

BUDGET 2020 | Whitehall to create Northern hub

Dan Whelan

Plans to set up an “economic campus” in the North of England and relocate up to 22,000 civil servants out of the capital were announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak

The move is intended to help devolve power from London to the regions and “change the mindset of Government to ensure economic decision making reflects the economic geography of the country”, he said, as he unveiled his budget for 2020-2025 on Wednesday.

Under the plans, an initial 750 Treasury staff – one-fifth of its total employees – would be relocated to the campus, followed by more stafff from teams from DfT, BEIS and MHCLG, in the coming years.

It is not yet known where the campus, which will be focussed on economic decision making, will be located, or whether Northern cities will have a chance to bid to host the hub.

However, Ben Houchen, Tees Valley mayor, tweeted recently that the campus should not be given to Manchester of Leeds.

Jessica Bowles, director of strategy at Bruntwood, said: “Our current centres of power in London must get closer to the regions and so it’s heartening to see concrete plans to move elements of Whitehall outside of the capital. The people making policy need to experience the reality of the UK regions in order to understand them.”

John Keyes, Manchester-based chair of public sector at Cushman & Wakefield: “A budget that supports public services, invests at historic levels in capital projects and infrastructure, supports research and development and moves civil servants out of London should be very good news for Manchester and the North West.

“We need to look out for how the money is actually allocated but North West public bodies and businesses need to be gearing up to exploit the new opportunities. Manchester is particularly well placed to attract government jobs, exploiting the pools of graduates and other skilled people within easy access of the city. The wider region will need to ensure it benefits from investment in town and city growth, including places like Preston.”

As talk of levelling up the regions continues, news of a review of the ‘green book’, the system used by the Treasury to guide decisions on policies, programmes and projects, will be welcomed by Manchester City Council chief executive Joanne Roney who called for Dominic Cummins to “rip it up” at a Forum for the Built Environment event last month.

The green book is perceived by many outside London to have skewed investment in favour of the South East.

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It will end up in Manchester.

By Liver guy

It has Manchester written all over it.

By MmcDrama Queen

These jobs will go up to the North East. Manchester & Liverpool have little, if any chance, of getting them. Liverpool leadership constantly criticise the government and seem unable to work constructively with central government. (No chance of change there, with Joe surely and embarrassingly set to be reelected). Manchester will probably get any crumbs that fall from the table.

By Craig

Liverpool is the obvious place and the Tees Valley is virtually unheard of. It`s only another formality because its going to go to the northern Manchester powerhouse, just like everything else. Why upset the status quo?

By Michael McDonut

Liverpool obviously

By Anonymous

No one ever mentions Preston, or any part of Lancashire for that matter It’s time some Liverpool readers took a close look at some real under invested cities before complaining and comparing themselves to Manchester. This is a chance to address an imbalance.

By Uu

If this is spread too thinly it will defeat the whole point. This is the problem, BBC in Manchester Channel 4 in Leeds doesn’t give a counter balance to London. Both in either/or may have done. If this is relocated to some random place it will achieve nothing more than has happened since the 60’s with the odd Govt outpost moving to some town and having minimal impact. Swansea DVLA, Inland Revenue etc. For it to mean anything then it must be Manchester of Leeds. Otherwise its the same old Northern towns and cities fighting over scraps.

By Loganberry

No.1, in response to the Tees Valley Mayor, how does keeping this away from the largest conccentration of people in the North, best represent the people of the North? Besides, what exactly is the Tees Valley any way. If you are a mayor of a city area, name the area after the core city or it means nothing

No 2. Considering this comes from the same government that shifted the Northern Powerhouse HQ from the North to the South, I think we should take it with a grain of salt. I wouldn’t be surprised if the current government just named a building in London the “North of England House” and then they could ligitimately claim they have moved 22,000 people to the North of England… Don’t scoff this immediately, they done a similar twist with 30,000 nurses…

No.3 Should it go to Manchester? Why not. It’s both the largest city in the North of England (and using the modern term for a city, as in the region, rather than just LGA) and is the centre of a polycentric megalopolis of 12 million. Makes sense.


I wish ‘Michael McD’ would stop imitating Liverpool. The Manchester propaganda machine really us dark. I really do hope it doesn’t go to Manchester. We don’t want to replicate an over-centralised south in the North. The North is the collection of all its towns and cities and a trans-pennine ‘Powerhouse’ should not be reliant on one place!

By Liverpolitan

Liverpolitan paranoia

By Anonymous

Liverpool would be a good place for this.There needs to be a decent sized airport near to something like this.The Tees Valley is a ludicrous suggestion.You will never get Londoners to move to Middlesborough. You’d struggle to get other Northerners to move there.

By Elephant

We need civil servant jobs for our cities future. Jobs for our children and their children. Liverpool fits the criteria because we have got a passport office and the civil servants wont have far to go when they need a passport.

By Mary Malarkey

As per their announcement that they still intend to continue to build only a new HS line between Manchester and Leeds, this is nothing more than a reiteration of their continued, never binned, plan for a Whitehall of the North. In Manchester. Not so much devolution for Liverpool, but more like parking economic tanks on our lawn.

What this announcement shows is that it’s still the same rotten civil servants who are really in charge. The current government is easy pickings for the clique to get their plans through.

Case in point, the government was recently sent to visit and give explicit approval for Metrolink lines to Stockport, Bolton and Wigan, and a brand new metro network for quarter-the-size-of-Liverpool Leeds.

In this budget, they name checked each of those projects – as supposed examples – while announcing the £4bn pot to be shared between Liverpool, Manchester, West Yorks and Birmingham.

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that Birmingham’s already in progress requirements are already allocated from a separate pot, while there will be nothing left in that already pre-allocated £4bn pot for Liverpool.

Tellingly, the government also claim they are speaking to Liverpool and Manchester first. While they have spent billions working up plans for and with Manchester, they have spent nothing on and allocated virtually nothing to planning for Liverpool. They know the region will have a long list of asks, with no resource to evidence the practicality or case.

Why would Whitehall move to Liverpool, given their decades long behaviours.

By Mike

Liverpool Waters has planning for well over 1m sq ft, infrastructure, space, connectivity and is oven ready. How many other locations are ready to go!


Getting 22,000 civil servants to move to Manchester would be hard enough, imagine trying to convince them to move to the Tees Valley, laughable!

By New Wave

I think basically Liverpool doesn’t care where it goes as long as it’s not Manchester.

By Anonymous

Liverpool, of course!! But we have a shortage of good office space, maybe at the Council’s Pall Mall development??


By Liver lad

Those with long memories may remember this esteemed organ trumpeting ‘The Whitehall of the North’ back in 2009:

By Done deal?

It’ll be going to Stockton-on-Tees (the posh end of the Boro). An absolute nap.

Start buying up property in Yarm as fast as you can, would be my advice – prices have dipped a bit since Boro fell out of the Premiership…

By Sceptical

Mike have you got nothing different to say or any new conspiracy theories? Twitter, ssc and placenorthwest all day every day lolz


Through one simple announcement the Government has managed to ‘divide and conquer’ by creating factional arguments between different areas of the North.

The proposal needs to be put in context. It does not represent a decentralisation of national government powers, it is only the dispersal of where those who exercise those powers are based (Two very different things).

By UnaPlanner

Think this government now anti Manchester….lot of their new mps think Manchester and other cities have had their share ! …..nonsense of course the conservative mayor of tees Valley has an election in May …hence like the support the government is giving to Birmingham mayor the north east a big favourite for the new government centre . So the government will pepper pot money around towns in the north east , teeside and to a lesser extent the north west ……so losing most of the benefits of agglomeration…… Liverpool would be great but probably not ….but far far better Manchester the Teeside of the north east

By George

Unaplanner makes the best point so far. This will turn into a Manc bashing exercise when the real villain is Westminster. There is already a rumour that HS2 is only going to go to Manchester after Birmingham because the MP for Pendle is in charge of the scheme and was born there. The Leeds leg is in doubt.

By Elephant

It would be good for the North West if all cities/towns/regions benefitted.

I am from Chester but want to see Liverpool do well (e.g., get a HS2 connection) as well as Manchester (where I studied) etc.

By Chris