ONS move "madness", union claims

15-05-2007

ONS move
The government's decision to move all Office for National Statistics (ONS) staff from London to Wales has been described as "madness" by a union leader.

Plans for the move, which is hoped to save the civil service about £75 million, would see the statisticians move from their current Islington offices to a much larger centre in the Welsh city of Newport.

However the plans have been met with resistance by many of the ONS's employees, sparking fears that many will quit their jobs instead of relocating.

Speaking on BBC Radio Five Live's Wake Up To Money, Ro Marsh of the FDA union criticised the decision to relocate: "The announcement in January wasn't just that there were to be further relocations but that they were not going to produce those statistics in London anymore, which we believe to be madness."

Ms Marsh's comments come just days after the Bank of England, which relies heavily on the office's statistics, said the resignation of hundreds of highly skilled workers would pose a "serious risk" to the department's output.

"The users of these statistics are very, very concerned about whether or not the ONS can actually produce those world-class standard statistics without those people transferring from London and that's the key point, is that the people who are producing these statistics just now are not transferring to Wales," added Ms Marsh.

However such comments regarding the relocation have come under fire from Newport's business community.

Also speaking on the show John Burrows, whose company promotes business opportunities in Newport, said there were a "huge number of advantages" for the ONS staff in Wales.

"Newport is situated directly between Bristol and Cardiff and so has a very large catchment area for skills and labour in the area and of course housing is much, much less expensive than in London," he added.



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