Social Security Scotland’s move to set up headquarters in Dundee has been hailed as “just the beginning” for the Waterfront.
Welcoming the official announcement, the leader of Dundee City Council said momentum for Dundee’s Waterfront is now growing, with interest being shown by other potential tenants.
Councillor John Alexander spoke as he accompanied Cabinet Secretary for Social Security, Shirley-Anne Somerville, in the city yesterday.
The welfare agency has taken on a 20-year lease to become the first tenants of the Earl Grey building – which forms part of the Waterfront’s controversial Site 6 development.
The Scottish Government move, which was first revealed by the Tele in June, could potentially see 900 jobs created across three sites in Dundee and contribute up to £100m to the wider Scottish economy.
Local firms can also expect to benefit from contract work to fit out the building.
Mr Alexander said: “I’m sure the people of Dundee will be delighted to see the building finally occupied.
“It will have 100% occupancy and I think this will lead the way to much more development at the site.
“This is not the end, this is the beginning. This building is only one location on Site 6 – there are three others and there is also the opportunity to expand if necessary.”
He added: “This is also going to bring 900 new jobs to Dundee, many more than were initially anticipated.
“We began the Waterfront project 15 years ago and we are only half way through.
“There continues to be a lot of interest in the Waterfront. Other developments will follow in the next 12 to 18 months.
“The social security agency is a very strong tenant to have here.”
He added: “This is part of a growing momentum at the Waterfront and the latest in a series of milestones including the V&A reopening and considerable progress on work at Waterfront Place, as well as a recent exclusivity agreement with a serious player in the esports arena.”
“The Site 6 building will quickly become Social Security Scotland’s Dundee head office, a development that matches our ambition and value with hundreds of new jobs, but their base at Dundee House also remains in place.”
Chrissie Hynde, singer in the Pretenders, infamously labelled the Earl Grey building a “horrible carcass” in 2018.
Ms Somerville said the Scottish Government was not deterred by the site’s history.
Rather it chose to locate the new headquarters in Dundee as a result of believing “a lot of exciting things are to be happening” in the city’s future.
Future expansion was also a possibility, she said.
“We have already had a presence in Dundee since 2018 and it’s fantastic that all social security personnel will now be based in the city,” she said.
“Securing this space further establishes our presence and investment in Dundee, demonstrating our commitment to the city’s ongoing regeneration.”
She added: “We will begin fitting out the building next month and we expect to see the first staff in the building by the spring of next year.
“This will create new jobs and boost the local economy, as well as provide a social security system that is accessible and meets the needs of those who use it.”
It is estimated that the public body’s presence in Dundee alone has the potential to contribute up to £100m to the wider Scottish economy, when supply chain and spending of wages effects are taken into account.
Fit out of the building is expected to begin in October and will take approximately seven months.
Social Security Scotland has supported a number of Dundee contractors in the fit out of its bases at Dundee and Caledonian House and local suppliers will be invited to bid again.
The welfare agency will eventually deliver at least 11 benefits, including the delayed Scottish Child Payment, Child Disability Payments and Personal Independence Payment replacement.
David Wallace, Chief Executive, Social Security Scotland said: “I’m excited that we have secured this site for our Dundee head office – a building with this capacity, accessibility and close proximity to transport links is rare.”