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15% of government’s estate freed up for economic growth
The size of the government estate has been reduced by 15%, making way for businesses to grow, a report published by Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office revealed yesterday. The annual State of the Estate (SOFTE) report showed that since 2010 the equivalent of 18 times the size of the office space in the Shard building, or 230 football pitches, has been freed up.
The UK government is one of the country’s largest landowners but in the past much of its estate has been left sitting empty, used ineffectively, and much of it is now too outdated to be used as efficient, modern office space.
The report highlights the work and successes of the Cabinet Office’s Government Property Unit’s (GPU) in 2012. This includes substantial savings made for the taxpayer, including:
- £60 million from the sale of a long lease in Admiralty Arch to become a hotel
- more than £60 million generated from DfID’s move from 1 Palace Street to 22/26 Whitehall
- a reduction of £2.1 million a year in running costs made by the Environment Agency who have moved from three holdings to just one in Leeds.
Francis Maude said:
We’re serious about reforming how government works to help us compete in the global race. Our plans to reform the Civil Service need a modern workplace. We are pushing forward our ambitious programme to sell property we no longer use and get out of expensive rentals.
Since the last general election we have saved the taxpayer over a £1 billion and made space available in desirable central locations for redevelopment. This is not only about changing the way we work but generating an economic boost. We will now focus on making the best use of the buildings that remain to create a flexible, more efficient workplace.
Reducing the cost of the government’s property estate is a key part of the efficiency and reform agenda.
Following two years of large reductions in the government estate, over £1 billion was generated by getting out of unnecessary properties. The forthcoming Government Property Unit strategy for the next stage of property rationalisation will concentrate on making better use of the space the government plans to keep for the longer term. This includes looking at reducing the space used by each full time employee and plans for better co-ordination across the whole public sector estate. This is part of the government’s ambition, stated in the Civil Service Reform Plan, of creating an efficient working environment that best enables civil servants to deliver public services in an effective and modern way.
The State of the Estate report also includes progress on making the remaining property more energy efficient and sustainable. The report shows departments are well on their way to meeting their Greening Government Commitment to reduce emissions by 25% by 2015, as well as waste and water reduction targets.
Notes to editors
- During 2012 the overall size of the mandated estate fell from 9,751,144 sq m to 9,219,150 sq m.
- A Knight Frank report said that the government’s work to rationalise its estate has stimulated London’s economy by billions of pounds since the general election.
- The GPU strategy, which sets out the government’s vision for the central civil estate and the strategic objectives which underpin its delivery, will be published in the coming week.