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Civil Service

This blog post was published under the 2015-2024 Conservative Administration

We’re Levelling Up Careers in the Civil Service

Alex Chisholm

Following the newly-launched Levelling Up White Paper, Alex Chisholm explores how moving thousands of Civil Service roles and creating more opportunity around the country will help us to build A Modern Civil Service. 

Last week the Government launched the much anticipated Levelling Up White Paper. The paper sets out an exciting agenda that includes urban regeneration across the UK, improving education and training, investing in communities, tackling inequalities in health and wellbeing, and creating jobs.

In the Civil Service, we have ambitious plans to level up career opportunities for people across the UK. Following the launch of our new vision for A Modern Civil Service, last summer we committed in the Declaration of Government Reform to move 22,000 roles outside of London, including 50% of Senior Civil Servant roles. 

This will mean that there are better career opportunities for you across the UK, offering varied roles for diverse talents that reflect the people we serve, and in the process bringing decision-making to communities. 

Jobs in the Civil Service are varied, whether that’s working in intelligence, supporting people to secure employment, protecting our borders, helping educate our children, writing policy that positively impacts citizens, or analysing data that helps us to make decisions that save lives - you can build a rewarding career while building up your skills.

The problem we are trying to solve

Whilst 80% of the UK’s 485,000 civil servants are currently based outside Greater London, 74% of UK-based Senior Civil Servants are still based in London. This has previously meant that many of those who wanted to climb the ladder to senior level have either moved to London or nearby, or made the long commute from further afield. But those days are over - under these new plans, you don’t have to move to, or work in, London to have a fulfilling career. You can deliver exceptional public services anywhere in the UK.

Early successes

More than 2,000 Civil Service jobs have already been moved out of London as part of our Places for Growth programme. Furthermore, over the last year we announced a number of second headquarters for departments, including in Glasgow (Cabinet Office), Darlington (HM Treasury) and Wolverhampton (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities). We also renewed our commitment to East Kilbride with an expanded FCDO presence, a commitment from HMRC to remain at Queensway House, and plans for DWP’s second HQ in Leeds. 

Working together to benefit local communities

The towns and cities where Civil Service roles will be located will have PfG local delivery plans to bring together the government departments in that area. These joined up delivery plans will help us to work together more dynamically, embedding long-term sustainability and developing strong links with local communities. 

Success stories

Beth RussellBeth Russell, HM Treasury Director of Tax and Welfare:

Beth is one of our most senior civil servants and recently moved to Darlington - something that many would have felt inconceivable just a few years ago.

Beth said “It’s been hugely exciting seeing the new Darlington Economic Campus take shape over the last few months. We’ve already recruited lots of brilliant people bringing new insights and experience to the Civil Service. We’ve been doing outreach locally and across the region which we hope will better inform policy-making and delivery of government services.”

David Foley

David Foley, Director of Public Bodies in the Cabinet Office:

“I thought I'd given up the chance of working in the Cabinet Office when I moved out of London 20 years ago. Places for Growth and Levelling Up are changing that, and the fact I'm now working in the Cabinet Office in Glasgow has made it feel very real on a personal level.”


Rebecca HarrupRebecca Harrap, Government Communication Service Apprentice:

“The GCS apprenticeship has enabled a host of opportunities for me in the city I live in, Nottingham. Civil Service apprenticeships are vital as it provides the opportunity to stimulate regional growth amongst young people across the UK and not just in London, promoting a more diverse Civil Service.”


Attracting talent closer to home

Last year, we launched the Closer to Home campaign which promotes Civil Service roles in regions across the UK. We have worked with local authorities, devolved administrations, colleges and universities to build relationships and encourage a wider interest in joining the Civil Service. 

This highly successful campaign has led to a rise in external applications for Civil Service jobs. A recent campaign launched in Scotland - for specialist casework roles saw a 357% increase in applications, which the vacancy holder commented were of the ‘highest quality’.

The next phase of the campaign will cover UK Civil Service roles in Northern Ireland, the North West and Midlands. 

Why not start your own Civil Service journey or find your next move to another role or department? Go to the Civil Service careers website to find jobs near you, or try our Career Matcher quiz.

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  1. Comment by CP posted on

    It is great that there is an increase in civil service offices around the country. What would be even better would be to be able to use the offices closest to our homes. Given the power of the virtual world, cross function relationships would be forged, we would have some of the benefit of working from an office and still be able to travel to the main hubs of Manchester and London to meet the wider team from time to time (kind of the opposite of what is being said above but recognising the same benefit of remote working)

  2. Comment by Steve King posted on

    How does this approach fit with the corporate hub strategy? On one side we're promoting "levelling up" and moving jobs away from London and the South up t'North and promoting a more flexible way of working while continuing to impose a hub strategy. Surely it's time to revisit this now?

  3. Comment by C posted on

    If wer'e levelling up careers can those of us working outside London be paid the same as those based in London, and only have to work a 35 hour week in return for it too ?

  4. Comment by Rob Butlin posted on

    How will moving to and recruiting people in parts of the UK which are less diverse (than London) help the Civil Service to meet its diversity targets? And how will having more staff in parts of the UK which are more car dependant help us meet our Global Warming targets?

  5. Comment by BT posted on

    Seems this policy has been overtaken by events given that the Civil Service has shown it can work effectively anywhere in the country over the last two years. With flexibility and a requirement to only visit an office 1-2 days a week living a long way from your office is perfectly feasible. People in Darlington could now easily apply for jobs 'in London' and likewise people living in London can apply for jobs in Darlington.

  6. Comment by John Doe posted on

    In my view, there is also a sever lack of recognition for those staff that seek to better themselves. In my organisation, people make the effort to become qualified in specialist skills and additionally, those that supplement their experience in their current role - the organisation makes no effort to recognise those skills, nor do they make any effort to make use of them, or reward their staff accordingly. It is also treated with wonderment s to why staff leave, and why the wider organisation suffers with high staff turnover. Recognition is the key. Open up opportunities for those that make a concerted effort to be better, and subsequently make the organisation all the better for it!

  7. Comment by Genny posted on

    Although we are all being encouraged to go "back to the office" surely in the light of COVID-19 this is an opportunity to bottom out what "the office" really is? With hybrid/flexible working and modern technology, job opportunities and meetings do not necessarily need to be constrained to proximity to a physical location; people can be recruited from a much wider geographical area to work for a department or "local office" in another area, including between areas envisaged for levelling up.

    In terms of levelling up, how about making Government researchers/policy advisers/SPADs/similar go and live in an economically deprived area on minimum wage or benefits for 6 months, before they start advising on policy? There is a perception (which may or may not be the case) that many such people come from a very similar educational and social background with little, if any, experience of trying to survive on limited means, with no job opportunities or prospects of betterment.

    As to pay parity across grades, I understand this used to be the norm until responsibility for pay was delegated many years ago. Maybe time for a rethink, if you want to create more opportunities, and broader experience and understanding, across the Civil Service?

  8. Comment by E Baldock posted on

    This has been promised before, but then I saw the office I worked in, in Sheffield, pulled back to London. Sorry but it's going to take a while to convince me that this will actually happen.

  9. Comment by D Herbert posted on

    One of the issues with the Civil Service is the disparity in pay rates for the same grades in different departments. Has any thought been given to levelling up pay across the civil service so pay is the same at each grade across departments?

    • Replies to D Herbert>

      Comment by William Johnstone MIET posted on

      Further to your comment on levelling pay across departments, has any thought been given to the following -

      Rewarding specialist skills that have recruitment and retention issues?
      Such as engineers, IT, and more.

      A pay rise near the rate of inflation - which we haven't had for 11 years now.

  10. Comment by Paul C posted on

    This ambition will inevitably involve redundancies or early retirement. Can you tell us yet about your plans and when the Cabinet Office are going to publish the revised terms of the schemes?