Levelling-up snub as Bank of England shelves plan to open northern hub

Blow to government’s ‘levelling-up’ agenda as Bank of England shelves plans to open a northern hub

The Bank of England has delivered a blow to the Government’s ‘levelling-up’ agenda by putting plans to open a hub in the North on ice.

Threadneedle Street was planning to relocate hundreds of staff to an office in Leeds in an effort to make Britain’s financial industry less London-focused.

But a recruitment drive has been frozen and attempts to acquire up to 100,000 square feet of office space are on hold as the Bank grapples with ‘post-pandemic ways of working’.

Levelling down: The Bank of England has put plans to open a new hub in the north on ice as it grapples with ‘post-pandemic ways of working’

A spokesman for the Bank said: ‘We are fully committed to expanding our staff presence outside London and the South East, in order to better serve and attract people across the UK.

‘It is important that we take time to get this right, not least as post-pandemic ways of working are still being established.

‘We are revisiting our plan and timetable but our presence in Leeds will continue to expand, and our intention to create a northern hub there remains.’

The Bank already has a small office in Leeds, used by four staff who man the Yorkshire and Humber Agency. 

Bank agencies are dotted across the country and their workers are charged with being the ‘eyes and ears’ of the London policy-makers, keeping in touch with local businesses and communities to sound out how different regions are faring financially.

The office in Leeds was expanded in the spring and now acts as a base for around 30 Bank staff.

It is understood that further recruitment is planned, but not on the scale that some in the region might have hoped for.

The Bank’s decision to open a northern hub was announced last year, weeks after the Treasury revealed plans to open a campus in Darlington.

At the time, Bank governor Andrew Bailey said that having a ‘greater proportion of our workforce located outside London and the South East will better enable us to support our mission’ of delivering monetary and financial stability for the whole country.

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