Labour MP for Coventry North West, Geoffrey Robinson has proposed the idea of moving all government jobs to Coventry which he believes will help get the ball rolling on the £100million Friargate scheme next to Coventry Railway Station.
Friargate has been upcoming for nearly a decade however the first building has only just started to go up and so far, only one tenant has been established, Coventry City Council.
Nonetheless, the veteran MP wants Whitehall jobs transferred to the regions as part of devolution plans including the West Midlands where seven metropolitan councils have decided to join forces to form the WMCA – frequently denoted as “Greater Birmingham”.
The seven councils are Coventry, North Warwickshire, Birmingham, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton, who have all consented to join the organization in an attempt to receive power and capital from central government whilst Warwickshire is set to follow suit in 2017.
Mr Robinson believes government departments ought to be tangibly transferred in addition to receiving powers and funding.
He said: “The government are very eager to push forward plans to devolve powers from Whitehall into the regions through combined authorities and elected mayors, yet they’ve not mentioned as to how many civil service jobs will be devolved to the regions, including the West Midlands.
“It’s no surprise that London is first in the queue for investment when every government department is based there.
“I want MPs from every party to support real devolution from London to places like Coventry. I want there to be more civil service and public sector jobs in the West Midlands.”
He also said: “the move will save billions of pounds and is long overdue. The UK is one of the world’s most centralised countries, with central government undertaking 72 per cent of public expenditure in comparison to 35 per cent in France and just 19 per cent in Germany.”
He added: “Such a move would save billions from the sale of expensive London offices, and it would be a great opportunity to transform the way government works, bringing decisions closer to local people and enabling civil servants to find out what life is like in places like Coventry, such a move would certainly help kickstart our Friargate project.
“For me when we discuss devolution from Whitehall, devolving jobs is an important first step, yet at the moment, ministers are suspiciously quiet on devolving jobs.
“It would save taxpayers billions and distribute wealth more fairly too, transferring thousands of jobs and billions of investment from the capital to the rest of the country.
“Key institutions of the state, finance, business, broadcasting, media, culture and the arts are all concentrated in London.
“Given this imbalance, it’s no wonder that London is first in the queue for investment in so many areas from transport infrastructure to arts funding.”