The Government’s first priority is to drive down costs for the taxpayer and cut the massive budget deficit that we inherited. There has been cross-party agreement on the need for shared services for the past decade, but very little had been achieved until over the past 12 months. That is why I am pleased that last year we launched a joint venture with Steria that will save taxpayers at least £400 million and create a new, dynamic UK business services company.
The announcement in December that the Ministry of Justice’s shared service centre in Newport could be privatised has caused huge fears and uncertainty among the work force, who fear that their jobs will be outsourced and potentially offshored, which could happen under this model. Given the Prime Minister’s commitment to onshoring jobs last week, will the Cabinet Office reassure the workers in Newport that the plans will be shelved?
We will certainly not shelve any options that could bring improved services and cut the cost to the taxpayer. I am aware of the uncertainty. That will be resolved as soon as possible so that people know where the future lies. To give a bit of reassurance, I remind the hon. Lady that the first shared service centre in Swansea, which has been fully outsourced rather than being a joint venture, is taking on more staff.