FEARS a Newport shared service centre that employs 700 people could be privatised with jobs sent overseas have been aired by a city MP.

The PCS union has claimed the Cabinet Office has asked for a business case to be prepared on outsourcing the Ministry of Justice shared service centre in Celtic Springs, Newport.

Jessica Morden, MP for Newport East, asked cabinet office minister Francis Maude in the House of Commons for reassurances the plans would be shelved in parliament.

Ms Morden said the announcement in December the service centre in Newport could be privatised “has caused huge fears and uncertainty among the workforce, who fear their jobs will be outsourced and potentially offshored, which could happen under this model.”

Mr Maude replied the UK government would 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,” he told Ms Morden. He added the shared service centre in Swansea, which has been fully outsourced, is taking on more staff.

It is understood under proposals the centre could be kept within the ministry or joined to one of two existing privatised service centres, established last year by privatising civil service work.

One is the Department for Transport shared service centre in Swansea, owned by a German company Arvato, while another is 75 per cent owned by a French firm Steria and 25 per cent by the UK government.

Darren Williams, acting Wales secretary of the PCS union, said: “There are concerns that the ‘in-house’ option is being taken less seriously than the two privatisation proposals.”

According to PCS there are around 700 full-time permanent staff and 300 casual, fixed term or agency workers at the shared service centre at Celtic Springs. PCS fears privatisation could lead to jobs being off-shored, and has claimed the government plans to transfer the centre instead of tendering for it through EU rules.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “The department is considering options for the future delivery of back office admin services. All options will be evaluated to make sure they provide value for taxpayers’ money. We will work with staff, trade unions and other stakeholders to assess any impacts on staff.”