April 25, 2017
Inaccessible workplaces are too common problem that disabled people face in accessing buildings and public spaces, and the Government must lead a charge in improving access and inclusion in the built environment, according to a report by an influential cross party committee published today. The Women and Equalities Committee’s Disability and the Built Environment inquiry has been examining the extent to which those with accessibility issues are considered and accommodated in our built environment, and whether more could be done to increase the accessibility and inclusivity of both new and existing properties and spaces. The report recommends public procurement, fiscal initiatives and transparently modelling best practice, while bringing the full range of work on improving access and inclusion in the built environment into a coherent and transparent strategy, with the Department for Communities and Local Government held responsible for making this happen. The report found that many workplaces are inaccessible, there is very little choice of where to live and the public spaces through which people need to move can be prohibitively excluding; all of which constitute an unacceptable diminution of quality of life and equality.
April 20, 2017
The UK government has opened the tendering process the Estates Professional Services framework, the vast public sector property contract that covers all central and local government property and which reports claim is worth up to £430m in fees to the firms appointed. The bid is managed by the Crown Commercial Service, an agency sponsored by the Cabinet Office which has been driving the major overhaul of public sector property as it seeks to save £8 billion through a programme of rationalisation and divestment. The contract runs for four years with the present framework due to expire this September.
April 10, 2017
Fresh concerns have been raised about the levels of investment by the UK’s local authorities in commercial property. New figures published by CBRE suggest that councils spent around £1.3 billion on commercial property in 2016, most of it borrowed from a Central Government scheme not designed for that purpose. The news is certain to raise alarm across the UK and especially in Westminster. In November of last year, a report from the Public Accounts Committee warned that the increasing scale of commercial activity taken on by local authorities carried a high level of risk and that the council employees and councillors making decisions often lacked the skills and knowledge needed to take on such projects. At that time, the Government put the level of activity at around £1 billion. The fact that this figure is now significantly higher and mostly borrowed money is sure to increase concerns.
February 4, 2017
The UK government has reduced the public sector property estate by over 300,000 square metres delivering savings of £176 million in the last financial year, according to the latest State of the Estate report from the Cabinet Office. Speaking yesterday at the 2017 Government Property Conference, Minister for the Constitution Chris Skidmore announced that since 2010, rationalisation of the estate has reduced its size by a quarter, delivering over £1 billion in running costs. The sale of surplus properties, including Admiralty Arch (pictured) and the Old War Office, resulted in a further £1 billion in capital receipts in 2015-16 – a notable step towards the pledge to deliver £5 billion in receipts by 2020. The report shows that vacant space within the central government estate now only represents 1.4 percent – well below the average in the private sector of 8.9 percent.
January 30, 2017
The UK Government’s groundbreaking One Public Sector Estate (OPE) project now includes around three quarters of the country’s local authorities following the announcement that a further 79 councils will join the programme. One Public Estate is a national programme jointly run by the Cabinet Office Government Property Unit and the Local Government Association (LGA). It supports joint working across central and local government to release land and property and boost economic growth, regeneration and integrated public services. It encourages public sector partners to share buildings, transform services, reduce running costs, and release surplus and under-used land for development. Partnerships joining the programme will receive funding and practical and technical support to unblock barriers and deliver ambitious ‘transformational projects’.
January 17, 2017
Nearly 60 per cent of parents rank breakfast clubs as ‘very important’ for their families survival and routine; and a third of working British mothers say they would have to give up work if they weren’t available, claims a new report. The Kellogg’s study ‘The Parent’s Lifeline’, which looks into the role school breakfast clubs play in the lives of working families reveals that just a fifth of working mums and dads claimed they found time to enjoy breakfast with their children – describing their mornings as ‘tiring’ and ‘stressful’. While more than a quarter (27 per cent) of parents felt the absence of a breakfast club would mean at least one parent would be forced out of work, it is working mothers who would bear the burden (33 per cent). One in five recognised the cost for alternative morning childcare would mean they would have to tighten their purse strings, with nearly 20 per cent of parents claiming they save more than £50 every week by sending their children to breakfast clubs.
December 14, 2016
London commercial property has managed to weather the Brexit storm with a late surge of City deals over the past three weeks set to see Central London take-up in line with its long-term average level of 10 million sq ft in 2016. According to the latest figures from JLL, despite take-up in Central London being subdued in the lead-up to and immediate aftermath of the referendum, City take-up has surged during the last quarter, and is expected to reach 5.3 million sq ft by year end, just 6 percent below the long term average. This is offset by strong take-up in East London, where the recent deal to the GPU at Canary Wharf propelled take-up to 8 percent above its long term average level. The most notable deals of 2016 included – The Government Property Unit (GPUK) took 542,000 sq ft at 20 Cabot Square, E14 which was a sub-lease from Barclays; Apple pre-let 500,000 sq ft at Battersea Power Station, SW8 and will be paying a rent in the high £50 per sq ft; Thompson Reuters acquired 315,362 sq ft at 5 Canada Square, E14, paying a rent of £40 per sq ft; 33 Central, EC4 was pre-let to Wells Fargo who took the entire building, totalling 227,689 sq ft and New Look pre-leasing 127,096 sq ft at R7 Handyside Street, N1C for £77.50 per sq ft.
December 6, 2016
The UK Cabinet Office has today announced the location of a new Government Hub at Canary Wharf, as the government prepares to move around 5,700 full time civil and public servants from offices in Whitehall to East London. The government will take the whole building, owned by Canary Wharf Group, at 10 South Colonnade, Canary Wharf, covering 50,354 sqm, on a 15 year lease (to end in 2032). The move, which will be completed by the end of 2018, supports the modernisation of the Civil Service outlined by the new Workplace Plan on July 12. The Government Property Unit, (GPU), as part of its remit to drive savings across the government estate, is overseeing the deal with Barclays for the new hub. The Government claims the hubs will benefit the public sector by ensuring the future workforce is where it needs to be, in strategic locations with great public transport connections, local amenities and offering a modern working environment. Relocating civil and public servants from existing, often fragmented office locations, to modern, cross-departmental workplaces will make the most of emerging working practices and technology is part of that drive, it claims.
November 30, 2016
Levels of stress among public sector workers remain higher than any other sector, despite job satisfaction being at its highest level in four years amidst a tide of wider post-referendum optimism. This is according to the latest CIPD/Halogen Employee Outlook report of more than 2,000 employees which found that 63 percent of employees are satisfied with their jobs, rising to two-thirds (66 percent) in the public sector, the highest level for that sector since autumn 2012. However, public sector employees still report higher levels of pressure and exhaustion at work than any other sector. Two in five public sector workers (43 percent) say they are under excessive pressure at work at least once a week (all employees: 38 percent), and nearly half (46 percent) say they come home from work exhausted either always or often (all employees: 33 percent). The survey also suggests there is ample room for improvement in employee development and career progression which employers must address quickly so as not to lose valuable talent.
November 24, 2016
Changes in business rates announced in yesterday’s Autumn Statement are likely to hit hardest the areas in the Capital such as Shoreditch and Fitzrovia where innovative tech companies are located, commented Jon Neale, head of UK Research, JLL. “The impact will no doubt undermine government plans to boost tech investment under its ‘Industrial Strategy’ announced earlier this week,” he said. “Meanwhile, office costs are high in London and post Brexit we need to minimise the risk that companies, will see cheaper continental cities such as Berlin as better bet place to set up shop.” He did add however that the promised “£1.3bn to improve roads and ease congestion is welcome and is likely to unlock development sites and promote economic development in many parts of the country. If the UK is to really address the challenges and opportunities of Brexit, investment in infrastructure needs to be more ambitious as well as more focused on an increasingly digital, hi-tech future. Green and smart city technology, new tram and underground networks and truly high-speed broadband would help provide precisely the platform UK business needs.”
November 9, 2016
The latest part of the UK’s vast public sector estate that is being primed for a large scale sell-off is that of the Ministry of Defence. According to a government statement, 91 sites including more than fifty barracks, naval sites and airfields will be sold under plans to shrink the size of the defence estate by nearly a third. The MoD predicts that the sale will raise around £1 billion and cut running costs by around £140 million per annum, while the rest of the estate will benefit from the investment of around £4 billion to improve housing and facilities for personnel. Perhaps surprisingly the MoD also owns five golf courses which will be sold as part of the shake up announced in the newly published A Better Defence Estate strategy document.
October 27, 2016
Up to 861,000 public sector jobs in the UK – around 16 percent of the overall workforce – could be automated by 2030 according to research by Deloitte. The research builds on Deloitte’s work with Oxford University on job automation and is included in the firm’s The State of the State report for 2016-17 – its annual analysis of the state of public finances and the challenges facing public services. Deloitte’s previous work has shown that all sectors of the UK economy will be affected by automation in the next two decades, with 74 percent of jobs in transportation and storage, 59 percent of jobs in wholesale and retail and 56 percent of jobs in manufacturing having a high chance of being automated. The public sector includes higher numbers of roles in areas such as education and caring, as well as jobs requiring public interaction, all of which are at lower risk of automation. However, Deloitte calculates that automation could still lead to a reduction of up to £17 billion in public sector wage costs by 2030.