Welsh Government Offices abroad ‘must yield results’

The amount of money being spent on Labour Government offices abroad must ‘yield results’ and provide a significant boost to inward investment.

The call has been made by Welsh Conservatives as new figures show the current annual running cost of offices in seven countries is at least 700 thousand pounds.

According to information provided to the group in a freedom of information request, 35 staff are currently employed in 14 cities, including New York, Chongqing, Brussels, New Delhi, Bangalore and Washington.

At over 311 thousand pounds, by far the most expensive office is in Brussels, where 12 people are employed.

Four staff members work in a Tokyo office that costs 126 thousand pounds a year.

Running costs could not be supplied for Chicago, San Francisco, Washington and Dublin, where premises have been operational for less than 12 months.

While there has been a recent improvement, Wales’ share of total UK inward investment stands at just four per cent. Historically, that’s significantly lower than the high points of the 1980s and 90s.

Welsh Conservatives have previously questioned the effective use of public money in offices abroad. In late 2010, government staff were moved out of New York’s expensive Chrysler Building and into the offices of the British Consulate-General.

Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Business, Nick Ramsay AM, said:

“Offices and staff abroad are hugely important – but they must yield results. If they don’t – taxpayers will rightly question the huge sums of money the Labour government spend on them.

“There remains a real danger of potentially effective resources becoming little more than vain mini-embassies if they’re simply not producing the goods.

“Taxpayers deserve guarantees that the best value-for-money locations are being used, that numbers of staff are being utilised, and that these offices are supporting the Welsh economy.

“Many of these sites have been operating for a lengthy period, yet there is still a long, long way to go on inward investment.

“Recent improvements have taken us nowhere near past highs and I urge Carwyn Jones and Welsh Labour to guarantee future success.”

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