A MINISTER overseeing the possible privatisation of a Newport civil service office said he didn’t expect job losses there.

However Francis Maude, Cabinet Office Minister, left open the possibility for the Ministry of Justice shared service centre to stay in Government hands.

There are fears from unions and MPs that people could be faced with their jobs being off-shored.

Under the current proposals the centre, based at Celtic Springs business park, could be kept within the ministry or joined with either a private firm or a public private joint venture.

Mr Maude, who spoke to the Argus while he was on a visit to Airbus in Newport on Friday, said : “We are very sensitive to the need to provide as much certainty as possible.

“Certainly I don’t have any expectation there will be further job losses.”

But the minister added: “No one, whether in the private sector or in the civil service, can be given absolute certainty that all jobs will be protected.”

He said: “There’s no assumption that the only way to improve shared services is outsourcing.

“I don’t have a dogmatic view about what the right way for the MoJ shared service centre will be.

“The thing we absolutely have to do is ensure that we get maximum value for taxpayer money, while at the same time maximising opportunity for skilled and experienced staff to expand what they do.”

Mr Maude, who has oversight of the shared service programme, claimed that the former Department for Transport shared service centre in Swansea is now recruiting after it was outsourced to a private firm.

The Conservative MP said there was no timescale for when an announcement will be made.

Mr Maude visited the Office of National Statistics in Newport and Airbus at Celtic Springs, where he met some of the firm’s apprentices.

However, he didn’t visit the MoJ centre, which is located nearby.

Around 700 full-time permanent staff and 300 casual, fixed term or agency workers work at the office.