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Plans to relocate statistical work from London.

Issue date: 19 October 2007
Type: Statement

The Office for National Statistics operates from three sites:

  • its corporate HQ in Newport, Gwent
  • its Census and demography centre at Titchfield in Hampshire
  • its former HQ in Pimlico, London

ONS is also currently responsible for the General Register Office (GRO) for England and Wales, which is based at based at Southport in Merseyside, though the GRO will transfer to the Identity and Passport Service in April 2008.

ONS has a long history of successfully relocating jobs out of London. In the last 20 years, ONS and its predecessor bodies have successfully relocated Census and population work from London to Titchfield and the General Register Office to Southport.

During 2004, after publication of the independent Lyons review of public sector relocation, the Government set ONS the target of relocating 600 posts out of London and the South East by March 2008 and a further 250 by 2010.

So far ONS has moved nearly 400 posts out of London. This has taken place with no disruption to its outputs and with no damage to statistical development.

About 1,300 ONS staff now work at Newport, more than double the London total. Many key ONS products are produced there, including retail sales, gross domestic product and the main measurements of the UK’s production and services sectors. By the end of 2007, the main inflation indices and statistics on employment and unemployment will be produced at Newport.

In January 2007, ONS announced that all statistical work will be moved out of London. With the exception of the Census and demography work, which will continue to be done in Titchfield, all ONS statistical collection and analysis will be done in Newport.

The decision to relocate all statistical work from London has a number of advantages for ONS customers and staff, for South Wales and for all taxpayers.

It will benefit the quality of ONS data

Newport will become a centre of statistical excellence. Staff working together will generate ideas and share experience and best practice. The move will also reduce the risk associated with working on several sites and facilitate better management and planning.

It will benefit ONS staff

Bringing statistical collection and analysis under one roof will broaden and deepen career opportunities.

It will benefit the local area

South Wales will retain more highly skilled people, and graduates will increasingly see that they don’t have to go to London to get to the top of their chosen profession.

It will benefit taxpayers

There will be significant cost savings, which will help to fund investment in the new statistics that will be required as society and the economy continue to change. Office costs in London are five times the level in Newport. Also, staff turnover in Newport is lower than in London, giving savings in recruitment and training costs in the longer term.

The change involves:

  • reducing staff numbers in London from about 500 in July 2007 to about 340 by April 2008. At this point, ONS will move its London operations to a site in Myddelton Street, Islington currently occupied by the Family Records Centre, part of the General Register Office
  • a further reduction in the number of London staff to between 50 and 100 by April 2010. At that point, some statistical work, notably in National Accounts, will remain in London

Plans to complete the relocation of statistical work will be announced in due course.

ONS regrets the loss of many excellent staff who have decided not to relocate and recognises that factors such as family ties, spouse/partners’ careers, children’s schooling and social networks mean that many will decide to pursue other job options in London. It expects many to stay within the Government Statistical Service.

ONS has made its plans – with the support of key stakeholders - to ensure that business needs are fully met. Risk mitigation strategies are in place to manage the risk to statistical outputs as a result of the relocation programme.

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