Belfast Telegraph

National Audit Office probes closure of Business Department office in Sheffield

The National Audit Office is to look into a controversial Government programme that includes the closure of a regional business office and relocation of jobs to London.

Auditor general Amyas Morse has told a trade union there will be a "value for money" study into a Business Department programme which includes the closure of an office in Sheffield.

The study will include the planning, analysis and oversight of the programme, he told the Public and Commercial Services union.

A union spokesman said: " This is a very welcome development that we hope will shed some light on the plans, which we still think should be scrapped.

"Ministers and senior officials have utterly failed to make the case for Sheffield to close and for these jobs to move out of a northern powerhouse city and back to central London."

Louise Haigh, shadow civil service minister and Labour MP for Sheffield Heeley, said: "It is hugely welcome that ministers involved in this farcical decision will finally be held to account by the chief auditor for their fantasy claims that moving jobs to London from a cheaper base in Sheffield will save money.

"As we have forced ministers to account for themselves, it has become clearer by the day that they have been making it up as they go along.

"The truth is that the decision to slash northern powerhouse jobs and move them to London was based on the London-centric prejudice of ministers and senior civil servants, and that this prejudice will cost the taxpayer money as well as silence the voice of cities like Sheffield in the corridors of power.

"It's high time the Government were forced to answer for an organisational restructuring which looks increasingly half-baked."

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