Locating Green Investment Bank in Edinburgh could save public cash says MP

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By a Newsnet reporter
 
Locating the UK’s new Green Investment Bank in Scotland would help the decentralisation of Whitehall jobs and lead to significant savings an MP has claimed.
 
Mike Weir, the SNP Business and Enterprise spokesperson at Westminster said that such a move would demonstrate UK Ministers commitment to London decentralisation and lead to major savings.

By a Newsnet reporter
 
Locating the UK’s new Green Investment Bank in Scotland would help the decentralisation of Whitehall jobs and lead to significant savings an MP has claimed.
 
Mike Weir, the SNP Business and Enterprise spokesperson at Westminster said that such a move would demonstrate UK Ministers commitment to London decentralisation and lead to major savings.

Last October a parliamentary question revealed that Whitehall departments were spending in excess of £116 million a year on London weighting and living allowances for staff.  London weighting is an allowance given to staff in recognition of the high cost of living in the region.

The department which pays out the largest slice on additional payments for staff living in London is the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).  Coalition Minister Chris Grayling MP, recently confirmed that the DWP pays over £45 million for 14,000 staff working in London – more than £3200 for each employee.

Mr Weir said Ministers could make major savings and boost the economies of communities around the country by relocating staff from London.  The SNP MP repeated calls for the Green Investment Bank to be based in Scotland.

Commenting, Mr Weir said:

“We hear a lot of talk about the big society and localism from the Coalition Government, but we have to see much more evidence of decentralisation or dispersal when it comes to Whitehall.

“Given the cost of these London weighting and living allowances the UK Government should see the dispersal of these subsidised Whitehall posts as a way of saving money and boosting the economy of communities across the country.

“The UK Government should recognise that, particularly in remote areas, even small numbers of additional jobs can make a significant difference to social and economic conditions.”

There are currently 132,000 civil servants and 90,000 employees of ‘arm’s-length bodies’ based in London and the south-east.

Prior to the 2010 General Election David Cameron pledged to reduce the costs of Whitehall by one third and have a “bonfire of the quangos”.  Researchers claim to have identified more than 1,000 such bodies which are estimated to cost the taxpayer up to £60bn a year.

However when Mr Weir questioned Mr Grayling last October on how many departmental staff had been relocated at public expense in the previous 12 months, Mr Grayling admitted that there had been just one, a staff member who was transferred from Northamptonshire to London.

Mr Weir argued that locating the Green Investment Bank in Scotland would start off a “fairer” process and added:

“It is incredible that the Department for Work and Pensions alone spends in excess of £45million a year on additional pay for staff working in Whitehall – and yet, the only relocation it has made over the last year was actually to London from Northamptonshire!

“There should be a fair dispersal of government jobs across the UK and Ministers should investigate further what can be done to spread civil service and quango jobs outside of London.  They could start this process by basing the Green Investment Bank in Scotland.

“Bringing government closer to the people should be an ambition for Ministers and dispersing public sector jobs is one way to achieve this.”