Local newspaper group Newsquest is facing questions over a £246,000 subsidy it was given by the Welsh Government to safeguard jobs at its sub-editing hub in Newport two years ago.
The money was conditional on 15 jobs at Maesglas being safeguarded until 2020 and was intended to promote job creation.
Update 21/3/2017: The Welsh government may seek to recoup some £340k worth of state subsidy to the Newport Plant if conditions around job creation were not me, the BBC reports.
Newsquest has announced that the hub will close on 7 April meaning 70 jobs will have been axed at the centre since it received the state subsidy.
The sub-editing task has instead been partly eliminated, with reporters writing directly on to templated newspaper pages. Work from Newport has also been consolidated into the surviving Newsquest subbing hub in Weymouth, Dorset.
The Newport hub had been used by Newsquest as a way of cutting and outsourcing journalism jobs from many of its newspaper titles in Scotland and England.
A former Newsquest staffer told Press Gazette: “Newsquest and the Welsh government have questions to answer about this appalling waste of public money.
“People expect their taxes to pay for schools and hospitals – not subsidising low pay, and certainly not for job losses.
“Yet, when the hub closes, Newsquest will have cut more than 70 jobs and moved the work outside of Wales.
“It is such a kick in the teeth for overworked and underpaid subs in Newport.
“There’s much clamour for government intervention in the press, but proper safeguards must be put in place to protect the public purse from unscrupulous companies like Newsquest.”
A spokesperson for the Welsh government said: “In 2015 we provided £245,808 to Newsquest towards the creation of 50 jobs and the safeguarding of 15 jobs at it’s facility in Maesglas, Newport. The award was conditional on the jobs being in place until May 2020. This operation well exceeded it’s planned job creation target.
“We were very sorry to hear that Newsquest decided to undertake several rounds of redundancies at the operation during 2016, which has seen staffing levels reduce significantly.
“The group continued to employ a significant number of staff at the site for other related group editorial services. We are aware of this fresh report of further redundancies.
“We are seeking confirmation from the company and will be reviewing the staffing levels at the site in relation to their funding conditions in due course.”
A Newsquest spokesperson said: “We are in constant discussions with the Welsh Government.”