Bank of England suspends move to Leeds to level blow

The Bank of England has suspended plans to open a northern hub, in a blow to make the institution less London-centric.

The Telegraph understands plans to relocate hundreds of staff to Leeds have been delayed by at least a year as Threadneedle Street scales back its ambition to grow its presence across the UK.

An intention to acquire up to 100,000 square feet of office space has also been scrapped and recruitment plans frozen as the bank focuses on the economic crisis.

The Bank of England has announced plans to move staff out of London last April with the creation of a new northern hub in Leeds.

The hub was announced to much fanfare and arrived just weeks after the The Treasury has named Darlington as the location of its northern base as part of the government’s “upgrading” program.

Governor Andrew Bailey said at the time that having a larger share of his 4,000 staff outside of London and the South East would support the central bank’s mission to serve the whole country.

The Bank of England has been accused of being too London-centric, which critics say has fostered groupthink among policymakers.

A Bank spokesman insisted his Leeds ambitions had not been abandoned.

“We are fully committed to expanding our staff presence outside of London and the South East, to better serve and attract people across the UK. It is important that we take the time to get it right, especially as post-pandemic ways of working are still being established,” they said.

“We are reviewing our plan and timeline, but our presence in Leeds will continue to expand, and our intention to create a northern hub there remains.”

The Bank already has operations in Leeds, with its presence dating back to 1827. However, a cash center in the city is due to close next February, putting dozens of jobs at risk.

Threadneedle Street regional branches were established over a century ago but closed in the mid-1990s. He maintained a network of around a dozen representatives across the country known as Agents in places such as Glasgow, Cardiff and Manchester.

The Bank’s small Yorkshire and Humber branch is also based in Leeds. Its four employees act as the “eyes and ears” of political decision-makers by staying in contact with local businesses.

Leeds has become a thriving center for tech companies and is the UK’s largest financial and legal services center outside of London.

Sources said while the delay was a short-term blow, the bank’s fintech-focused staff could move to Leeds in the coming year under scaled-down expansion plans.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) also recently opened an office in Leeds, with more than 100 staff from the city regulator to be based there.

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