The Welsh Government has voiced concerns over the plans of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to relocate 1,700 jobs to a new headquarters in Treforest.
The planned 132,000 sq ft building will move jobs from across south-east Wales, closing offices in Merthyr, Caerphilly, Cwmbran, Newport, and Gabalfa in Cardiff. The First Minister Carwyn Jones and the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths criticised the plans on Tuesday in the Senedd.
Mr Jones said: “It is hugely important to make sure that jobs don’t leave Valley communities, and that’s why I was so disappointed to see that the DWP have decided to centralise in Treforest lots of jobs that have come from other valleys.
“They’re not new jobs; they’re jobs that have simply been moved around. Unfortunately, for many people, that will mean that they will now find they have to travel further in order to keep the jobs that they have. That is the wrong direction.”
Ms Griffiths said: “We understand the DWP are working to ensure that there are no job losses for staff resulting from the relocation, and that staff will be offered alternative roles, if relocation is not an option. But clearly as a government we are very concerned about this decision by the UK Government.”
Julie Morgan AM, who ran to be deputy leader of the Welsh Labour Party, also condemned the plans. She said: “This will take public sector jobs away from many needy communities, impact unfairly on staff increasing travel time and costs, and will particularly affect those with caring responsibilities.”
The decision has been taken by the UK Government and is a non-devolved matter.
Alun Cairns, the Secretary of State for Wales, praised the plans for investing in the Valleys in a statement last week. He said: “Having 1,700 UK government employees at a purpose-built site is a positive economic boost for Treforest and the surrounding area. The new office will provide more, high quality employment in a modern environment.
“The UK Government is doing all it can to foster economic growth, investment and sustainable employment by implementing key policies such as scrapping the tolls between England and Wales.”