UK central bank plans Leeds northern hub

The UK’s central bank, the Bank of England (BoE), announced that it intends to create a new northern hub in Leeds “as part of an ambitious plan to significantly increase its staff presence across the United Kingdom.”

The central bank wants to see “a greater proportion of our workforce located outside London and the South East.”

The BoE said: “Chief Operating Officer Jo Place will lead a review of the Bank’s geographical footprint which has been commissioned by its Governors and Court of Directors.

“The review will consider aspects such as the number of staff involved, recruitment models, and the timescales for delivery.

“The Bank’s current intention is to locate a new hub in Leeds, and look to further expand the Bank’s presence, based around the office network used by the Agencies around the UK.

“This will be subject to further review as work progresses.”

The Bank of England has had operations in Leeds dating back to 1827 including a cash centre — but that facility is due to close in 2023 when the lease on the building expires.

The BoE said the review will also take into account the experiences of remote working throughout the pandemic “with the Bank expecting to allow a more flexible model of working in the future to allow Bank employees greater flexibility about when, where and how they work.”

Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said: “Our mission at the Bank is to promote the good of the people of the United Kingdom by maintaining monetary and financial stability and to deliver that for the whole country.

“I made a commitment at my pre-appointment hearing before the Treasury Select Committee in March last year to look at how we can expand our staff presence across the UK beyond our existing Agency network.

“Working through a year of Covid has shown that we can function well virtually and, as the country begins to open up again, it is more important than ever to think about what our future working arrangements look like.

“This includes the options for working more remotely, and how we can gain better insights into the country and the people we serve.

“Having a greater proportion of our workforce located outside London and the South East will better enable us to support our mission.”

Place said: “We are the Central Bank of the UK and we are committed to how we can best serve, and represent, all the people in the UK.

“Our physical presence in locations across the country is a critical part of that.”

The UK central bank has 12 Agencies across the UK, including for nine regions of England and each of the devolved nations.

These operate from a network of offices in Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Fareham, Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and Nottingham.

The Bank of England confirmed that it has entered into discussion with Unite the Union, representing affected bank staff, about its proposal to close its cash distribution centre in Leeds in February 2023.

“Following the successful transition to polymer banknotes, the Bank expects demand for distribution of new banknotes to fall in light of their greater durability, together with the continuing trend towards lower transactional usage of cash,” said the central bank.

“After careful analysis, the Bank has therefore concluded that future distribution needs can be met from its Debden cash centre and existing storage facilities, without replacing the Leeds cash centre when the lease on the current property expires.

“Consequently, the Bank proposes to close the Leeds cash centre with effect from February 2023.

“All services currently provided through the Leeds cash centre would continue at Debden cash centre. This includes the service to assess and redeem mutilated notes which is currently performed in Leeds.

“The Bank formally notified Unite the Union of these proposals on 20 April and has informed potentially affected staff. It has commenced a formal consultation with Unite.

“There are 34 members of staff affected by this consultation.

“The Bank remains committed to meeting the demand for banknotes in all parts of the United Kingdom.”