Protest against business department's retreat from Sheffield

Rally against cuts Credit: ITV news

Thousands join rally in Sheffield to ask the government not to close The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills' office in the city.

If plans go ahead 250 jobs will move to central London in a move that the Public and Commercial Services union warns could damage efforts to revive areas hit by steel closures.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills' closure threat comes at a time when the future of Tata Steel's South Yorkshire plants hangs in the balance. Unions say the plan undermines the government's 'northern powerhouse' agenda and a commitment in the budget that fewer civil servants would operate from Whitehall.

Quizzed by the public accounts committee last month, permanent secretary Martin Donnelly claimed he had no figures for the costs of redundancy, relocation, meeting higher salaries in London or replacing lost experience and "institutional knowledge".

The Department for Education - which shares a building with BIS and works closely with it on skills, further and higher education, and apprenticeships - is increasing the number of its policy staff in Sheffield.

BIS did not consult prior to the announcement and has not produced a business case.

Thousands join the rally Credit: ITV News
Protest through Sheffield Credit: ITV News

Calendar's Chris Kiddey reports from the rally in Sheffield