Bank of England heads to Leeds: Old Lady unveils plan for northern hub

Bank of England heads to Leeds: Old Lady unveils plans to move ‘substantial number’ of staff from Threadneedle Street to new northern hub

The Bank of England has unveiled plans to open a new hub in the North.

Parts of the Bank will quit its historic home on Threadneedle Street in the heart of the City and relocate to Leeds.

The decision comes after the Government last month announced plans to open an UK infrastructure bank in Leeds and a Treasury outpost in Darlington. 

Parts of the Bank of England will quit its historic home on Threadneedle Street in the heart of the City and relocate to Leeds

The central bank has not yet decided what functions will move to Leeds, but it is understood that those who move could include officials as senior as the deputy governors.

One source said the Leeds hub would be ‘something substantial’ in terms of the number of staff it would employ. They added that the city was chosen for its transport links and proximity to several universities which specialise in finance and economics.

The Bank, which has been dubbed the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street due to its near 300-year history at its current headquarters, has had operations in Leeds since 1827.

These include a cash distribution centre, which is set to close in 2023 when the lease on the building expires.

But Governor Andrew Bailey (pictured) told the Treasury Committee before his appointment last year that he wanted to ramp up the Old Lady’s presence further outside London.

Announcing the plans for Leeds, he said: ‘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.’

Bailey wades into lobbying row 

'Unavoidable': Bank of England boss Andrew Bailey said lobbying was a part of business

‘Unavoidable’: Bank of England boss Andrew Bailey said lobbying was a part of business

Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey has addressed the Greensill lobbying scandal – but said it was important to speak to ‘varied people’.

In a speech on diversity, Bailey said meeting with lobbyists was an unavoidable part of business, adding: ‘The answer is not to speak to no-one. That is not likely to lead to good decision making. 

The answer is to be rigorous about speaking to a diverse range of people to get their views.’ 

It comes as Bailey faces questions from MPs on the Treasury Committee in May over the collapse of Greensill Capital, and why the now-bust lender had access to the Bank’s Covid corporate finance facility.

Greensill fell into administration last month, and it has emerged that it employed a network of political figures including former Prime Minister David Cameron to lobby officials.  

The Bank is the latest UK institution to send heavy-hitters north. Even private firms which have traditionally failed to embrace life outside the M25 are now branching out. Goldman Sachs bankers recently announced they were planning a tech campus in Birmingham.

The moves will be welcomed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has promised to iron out inequalities between regions. Roger Marsh, chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, said the move ‘represents a substantial economic opportunity’.

He added: ‘Our region is already home to some of the UK’s largest financial services institutions and today’s announcement, which follows just weeks after Leeds was named as the home of the new UK Infrastructure Bank, makes West Yorkshire the undisputed second centre for financial services outside of London.

‘This new Bank of England hub will be the critical component in a truly integrated financial service cluster, where traditional banks and building societies and the tech firms of tomorrow collaborate, innovate and thrive. 

The move signifies a new page in the relationship between the Government and cities and regions across the North.’

Jo Place, the Bank’s chief operating officer, will lead a wider review of its locations. Currently, the Bank’s agents operate from offices in Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Fareham, Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and Nottingham.