Wales politics

Newport Office for National Statistics backed by minister after job fears

Office for National Statistics
Image caption Around 2,000 people work at the Office for National Statistics in Newport

Newport will stay as the main base of the Office for National Statistics, the minister responsible has said.

An interim report in 2015 recommended that a London base be strengthened alongside the south Wales operations, where 2,000 people work.

It said there had been a "detrimental" effect on expertise when work was moved from London to Newport in 2007.

But Paymaster General Mathew Hancock, said: "We're going to back Newport," promising new investment in technology.

In August, former Bank of England deputy governor Sir Charlie Bean was appointed to lead a review of the ONS, and consider whether it was well-placed to cope with future challenges.

It prompted fears from union leaders that jobs could be lost in Newport.

His interim report in December said there had been a "significant - though not necessarily permanent - detrimental effect on the capability of ONS" when its statistical functions were moved out of London in 2007.

Sir Charlie's final report is due to be published before the Budget in March.

But Mr Hancock told BBC Radio Wales on Thursday that Newport would remain the main base of the ONS.

Speaking on Good Morning Wales, he said he wanted to build on "the talents of the people there, and the increasing strength of digital businesses in Newport and across south Wales in order to make sure we've got those skill sets that are needed."

He stressed the need to upgrade ONS resources, adding: "They say that there's more data that's been produced in the last two years than in the rest of history put together.

"That means if you're the people responsible for statistics and for data, you need bigger computers than ever before.

"So there'll be both the physical kit and making sure that the digital skills are there, but we've taken the decision to do all of that in Newport and back Newport."

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