We recognise that rebalancing the economy geographically is important, and I will come on to some of the work that the Government are doing in that area. We are not talking here about taking work out of the north of England and centralising it in London: we are talking about ensuring that the estate of the Insolvency Service is sensibly spread across the country and that the offices are where the work is. That is an important part of having an effective and efficient operation.
I appreciate that the decision to close the office is not what Hull employees want and I know that the Insolvency Service board did not take the decision lightly. I am aware that the board fully considered the option of moving to cheaper Government property in Hull, as well as closing its Leeds office and moving those operations to Hull. The business case put forward did not just include accommodation costs: it also looked at other benefits, such as efficiency savings stemming from combining teams, the ability to be flexible in how the Insolvency Service deploys its employees and the greater potential for personal development provided by moving between different roles in a larger office.
The business case calculated that a move from Leeds to Hull would have a net present cost of £535,000 over five years, against a net present value saving of £289,000 for a move from Hull to Leeds. Costs would have been higher for a move from Leeds to Hull because the lease on the Leeds building runs until 2018, whereas the Hull lease only runs until 2016. That is a significant difference.