Departmental workers – including those dedicated to the operation of government’s global digital system for Secret information – are to be moved to Scotland’s largest city, reportedly to help meet staffing targets
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office is to quit its longstanding East Kilbride base in favour of premises in central Glasgow as it struggles to meet its target of redeploying 500 roles to Scotland.
Among the workers housed there is the team responsible for overseeing the operations of Rosa, government’s global digital system for accessing Secret-level documents and information. The service, which is managed on behalf of the Cabinet Office by the FCDO, allows about 15,000 users from across about 40 departments and agencies – including the likes of nuclear power facilities, as well as embassies and diplomatic missions across 166 countries – to access and collaborate on data and documents classified as Secret.
In 2021 it was announced that 500 additional FCDO staff members would be sent to the Scottish facility as part of government’s levelling-up agenda. This would have taken the total number of departmental staff in East Kilbride. Among the roles advertised in the town since then has been a post as the new head of the Rosa service.
It is understood that the FCDO has struggled to meet the wider 1,500 target due to being unable to lure staff members to East Kilbride, where it and predecessor departments, including the Department for International Development, have worked out of Abercrombie House since 1981.
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HMRC, which currently leases Queensway House in East Kilbride, will take over the government-owned building following the move, with 1,700 members of staff moving across. The switch is not expected to happen until 2025.
Scotland’s first new town developed shortly after the Second World War, East Kilbride is located about eight miles to the south east of Glasgow. With about 75,000 inhabitants, the town is the country’s sixth largest conurbation.
A spokesperson for the government confirmed that no jobs would be lost as part of the FCDO move, although it is understood that the department will take a tougher stance on hybrid working following the move, with staff expected to spend significantly more time in the office than is currently mandated.
“The FCDO is growing its presence and number of staff in Scotland,” the government spokesperson said. “To widen their future talent pool, FCDO is relocating to a modern building in central Glasgow, confirming the government’s long-term commitment to Scotland. HMRC will be moving into Abercrombie House, which is a building that is already part of the UK government estate, providing better value for money to the taxpayer and which will continue to boost the economy of East Kilbride. HMRC is still at the early stages of plans for the building and hopes to confirm timelines in the spring.”
The government said the FCDO is still in the process of identifying a Glasgow base, while HMRC will maintain a presence in Scotland’s largest city, where it has occupied premises in Atlantic Square since last year. At the time of the move the office was home to 2,600 HMRC staff as well as 270 Cabinet Office staff. As part of the levelling-up plans the government said those numbers would grow to 3,500 by 2025, with 500 in the Cabinet Office and the rest working for HMRC.