Cabinet minister sent to the Midlands: Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick will set up base in Wolverhampton as part of government’s ‘levelling-up’ agenda
- Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick to be partly based at new Wolverhampton HQ
- The announcement forms part of Government’s pledge to ‘level up’ the country
- First ever ministerial HQ outside of Whitehall will create up to 500 jobs by 2025
- Ministers hope the move will provide an economic boost to West Midlands area
A cabinet Minister will have an office in the Midlands for the first time ever as part of the Government’s pledge to ‘level up’ the country.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick will be partly based in a new departmental HQ in Wolverhampton along with dozens of civil servants.
By 2025, as many as 500 Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government will be based across the West Midlands, up from 300 currently. Some 40 roles have been relocated there in the past year.
And by the end of the decade half of the department’s most senior officials are due to relocate to the area.
Ministers hope the move will provide an economic boost to the Midlands as well as allowing local residents to become civil servants without having to move to London.
Mr Jenrick said last night: ‘As Communities Secretary, I am determined to spread opportunity and prosperity to every part of our nation.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick (pictured) will be partly based in a new departmental HQ in Wolverhampton as part of the Government’s pledge to ‘level up’ the country
‘That is why I am delighted to be taking the historic step of moving significant numbers of senior roles out of Whitehall and creating the first ever ministerial office outside of Westminster in Wolverhampton – increasing the jobs in the Midlands to over 500.
‘With a dual headquarters in Wolverhampton, my department will not only change where we work but how we work, signalling the end of the Whitehall knows best approach.
‘All of us at the department are looking forward to having the opportunity to work there.
‘In choosing the city of Wolverhampton we are also backing our great smaller cities, some of which have been neglected for too long.
‘We want to raise their stature, encourage civic pride and commercial success.’
For Mr Jenrick, spending some time in Wolverhampton will not mean long commutes as he owns a £1.1m Grade I-listed house just 40 miles away in Herefordshire.
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street (pictured) said he had ‘lobbies’ hard to secure the moves
He faced controversy last year when it emerged that he had driven from his Westminster town house to the country manor during the first lockdown. He insisted the mansion was his family’s main residence.
As well as Mr Jenrick’s ministry setting up shop in Wolverhampton, the Department for Transport is also set to open an HQ in nearby Birmingham.
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street has said that he ‘lobbied incredibly hard behind the scenes’ to secure the moves.
Overall as many as 92,000 civil servants could be moved out of Whitehall in the coming years as part of the Prime Minister’s ‘levelling up’ agenda to improve jobs and opportunities in the regions.
Boris Johnson himself enjoyed an unlikely spell in Wolverhampton as a cub reporter in the late 1980s.
He later recalled it was the moment when he knew he was a Conservative, telling a newspaper: ‘I got impatient with some of the stuff I saw going on about damp and mould, about who is ultimately responsible for improving the ventilation in people’s houses.
‘I felt that people were being infantilised and made dependent by the system and that the local Labour politicians had no interest in sorting it out; were content to harvest these people’s votes without improving their lives.
‘It was the spores of damp, of mould forming on the walls of Wolverhampton.’