Study backs closure of passport office

First published in Passport Office South Wales Argus: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

THE LONG awaited study into the economic impact of closing Newport Passport Office backs the move by the report's authors, the Identity and Passport Service.

The report concludes that closing the Newport office remains the preferred option and describes the economic impact on the city as "small".

It even claims that the local economy could be boosted in the short term by the £3m which would be paid out in redundancy to the hundreds of staff who would lose their jobs.

However, the study did not take into account the effect the closure would have on small businesses in the city, saying that the impact would be so small it would be difficult to quantify reliably. This flies in the face of what city traders have told the Argus over the past few months, who have all argued that closing the passport office would hit them really hard.

The report's conclusions are in direct contrast to those of Newport Unlimited and the city council’s own study, which said the move would leave the region £36 million worse off a year.

In fact, the report is more of an exercise in weighing up the costs and benefits to the taxpayer of cutting 300 jobs from the IPS, rather than on the specifics of how the loss of so many city centre jobs would affect Newport.

But it states: "The number of people visiting to get their passport will be unaffected by the office closure...so this impact is limited to the lost trade from those people that we make redundant.

“We will also pay £3m in redundancy to those individuals we make redundant, which may create a short term boost in trade for the local economy.”

The report states there would be one-off cost of £1.6m to close the Newport Passport Office, but argues that the savings to the taxpayer would be more than £52m over the next 10 years.

The report says shutting Newport would have the lowest cost, the highest level of benefits for the service and one of the lowest one-off costs of any of five other options considered.

The consultation into the passport office closure will end on Friday.

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