UK chancellor Rishi Sunak is to announce in his Budget that the Treasury will set up an economic campus in the northern railway town of Darlington, which will make it the ministry’s first major office outside the capital.
Four Whitehall sources told the Financial Times that staff had been told on Wednesday that the chancellor will confirm the Teesside town as the location. Teesside will be one of the first regions in England to be granted a free port status, which will encourage investment through tax breaks and looser planning rules.
The decision to create an economic campus beyond Whitehall is part of the Johnson government’s levelling-up agenda to deliver opportunities to those parts of England that have been considered “left behind” and is expected to help diversify opinion in decision making. As many as 22,000 officials will be moved out of London by the end of the decade.
Darlington last week emerged as the favourite location for the campus but it has been the source of a battle between ministers and civil servants. Conservative MPs have lobbied for the campus to be built in the town but officials argued that the cities of Newcastle or Leeds had better infrastructure to make the project more sustainable.
Treasury North will eventually be home to 750 officials, including 400 from the Treasury and others from the business, transport and international trade departments.