William Eichler 04 August 2016

25,000 civil servants should leave London to boost devolution

25,000 civil servants should leave London to boost devolution image

Thousands of civil servants should be moved out of London to ‘turbo charge devolution’, think tank says.

A new paper by Policy Exchange urges Westminster to relocate 25,000 London-based civil servants to local authorities and city regions to boost productivity and innovation in public service delivery.

The report, entitled Delivering Differently, calls on the PM to end what it describes - referencing the 1980s TV show Yes, Minister - as an ‘outdated Sir Humphrey model of Government’.

Policy Exchange says a bottom-up and localised approach to solving problems in welfare, health, criminal justice and education should instead be encouraged because there are no ‘one-size fits all solutions’ that can be implemented from the capital.

Between 2004 and 2010, around 20,000 civil servants were moved out of London following the Government-commissioned Lyons review into Civil Service relocation.

A 2010 follow up recommended the long-term goal should be to reduce the number of civil servants in London by one third - nearly 25,000 people.

‘Our top down and centralised system of government makes it difficult for any political party to deliver the type of radical public service reforms needed to increase growth and living standards across Britain,’ said the report’s author Damian Hind.

‘Change still seems to start with diktats from Whitehall. If we truly want to create public services that help people to live independent and fulfilling lives then we need to think differently about how we design and deliver services.’

‘More decent, human and caring services will only be achieved by changing the mind-set of policymakers in Westminster, breaking down the outdated Sir Humphrey model of Government and putting local places firmly in control,’ he added.

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