March 24, 2015
Yesterday, the Government published its State of the Estate report for 2014 detailing the size and cost, efficiency of use and sustainability of central government buildings. The report covers all central government property with the exception of the military estate, prisons, NHS, Defra rural estate, Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Home Office and overseas estate. The current Government has laid great store on its ability to rationalise and improve the estate and the report focuses on its achievements in this regard. The report claims that since 2010, the changes have resulted in the estate divesting some 2,000 properties (28 percent of the total), reduced the footprint of the estate by 2 million sq. m. (a 20 percent reduction). It claims that this has been achieved by “identifying underused properties and modernising buildings to make better use of a smaller number of properties and the space within them.”
March 19, 2015
In yesterday’s budget announcement, the Chancellor maintained the Government’s focus on regional devolution and investment in both physical and digital infrastructure. In truth, there was little surprising in the announcements, many of which had been signalled in advance and were rooted in existing policies. Some of them arrived fully formed, such as the devolution of powers related to business rates. Others, including the much talked about and overdue investment in regional infrastructure such as the cross country fast rail link, were fleshed out. Given that this is a budget with both eyes on the forthcoming general election, it’s a shame that some announcements lacked detail. Here are six of the key announcements that will affect the workplace, technology and property sectors.
March 2, 2015
The latest changes to public procurement regulations in the UK have now come into force, which the Cabinet Office claims will make it easier for businesses to win government and other public sector contracts. The new regulations have a particular focus on making work more accessible and attractive for small and medium sized enterprises. The key reforms which came into force on the 26 February include the abolition of a pre-qualification stage for procurements below the EU thresholds and a requirement to take account of guidance on qualitative selection issued by the Cabinet Office for above EU threshold; the requirement for contracting authorities to insert provisions in all public contracts to ensure prompt payment through the supply chain; and the requirement to advertise as many public sector opportunities in one place (Contracts Finder), and to publish award notices for contracts and call-offs from framework agreements.
February 26, 2015
The Mayor of London has revealed the latest plans to move the city’s pedestrians, bikes and cars underground and elevated on decking. The latest proposals would see a number of the capital’s major roads mounted or buried with the space saved at ground level converted to greener and more pleasant uses (and property development obv). An announcement from the Greater London Authority claims that over 70 sites across London have been considered for the scheme which will include new tunnels, fly-unders and decking. It follows hard on the heels of another proposal to create the Underline, a network of cycle lanes and walkways based on the city’s existing web of unused tunnels. The roads proposed for the new scheme include the A4 in Hammersmith, the A13 in East London and sections of the North Circular Road.
February 25, 2015
The UK Government has published its new Property Profession Competency Framework which it describes as ‘an outline of the skills required to manage property assets at both operational and strategic level.’ The Government Property Profession (GPP) framework aims to provide a basis for improving the capability of civil servants working in property asset management roles. The GPP competencies complement the Civil Service competency framework and are defined as: professional and technical expertise; statutory, regulatory and professional requirements; interpretation and analysis of data; sustaining and developing the GPP. It is hoped that these competencies and levels will appear in job descriptions for property asset management roles and be used in appraisals for GPP members. Image: award winning Rochdale Borough Council HQ.
February 23, 2015
In this week’s issue; Maciej Markowski says most companies are not like Google, so don’t require a Google-cloned office; and Mark Eltringham explains why Charles Handy was largely correct in his pronouncements on the changing nature of work. Take up of leased office space in London hits its highest level since 2000; the UK workforce sees an increasing pay divide; and with new flexi-rights just weeks away, Acas publishes a new free guide on Shared Parental Leave. The Government publishes the latest edition of its ‘Greening Government ICT Strategy’ report; and the House of Lords’ report, Make or Break: The UK’s Digital Future, predicts that 35 percent of jobs over the next two decades will be automated. Sign up to the newsletter via the subscription form in the right hand sidebar and follow us on Twitter and join our LinkedIn Group to discuss these and other stories.
February 20, 2015
Whichever party or coalition forms the next UK Government will face a raft of serious challenges with the emerging digital economy, including making plans for the automation of up to a third of existing jobs. That is the main conclusion of a new report published this week by The House of Lords. Make or Break: The UK’s Digital Future, argues that the next 20 years will present the UK with a range of profound challenges and opportunities and it is incumbent on the Government to address them at the earliest opportunity. As well as imminent and well known issues such as the need to roll out ultrafast broadband countrywide and the development of skills and digital clusters, the report also highlights the particular issue of what to do about the claim that up to 35 percent of jobs over the next two decades will be automated.
February 19, 2015
The Government has published the latest edition of its ‘Greening Government ICT Strategy’ report, which looks at how central public sector bodies in the UK are addressing environmental issues directly associated with hardware as well as related issues such as travelling to work, the use of property, working cultures and the delivery of services. For the first time the report includes details of energy consumption. The main commitments of the strategy are the ongoing shift to cloud based ‘digital by default’ operations and a focus on the flagship the Way We Work (TW3) flexible working programme which aims ‘to ensure that civil servants have the modern tools they need to enable them to work effectively together and with customers. New greener digital technologies and working practices will help do just that.’
February 19, 2015
The UK Government has announced that it is to invest £50 million in providing free Wi-Fi on a number of regional rail networks across England and Wales. The rollout will extend to Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern (TSGN); Southeastern; Chiltern and Arriva Trains Wales. In addition, all future bids for new rail franchises will have to include provisions for Wi-Fi infrastructure. The government has said it is focusing on those operators that currently have limited plans to invest in Wi-Fi infrastructure to give the greatest benefit to customers, which may explain the absence of long distance carriers. The plan is to offer greater access to free wi-fi on the country’s rail network by 2017. The money is equivalent to the amount Network Rail has returned to the Government for missing punctuality targets.
February 17, 2015
The UK workforce is seeing an increasing pay divide between employers that can now afford to increase wages by 2 percent or more and those that are stuck in a pay freeze. According to the latest Labour Market Outlook from the CIPD, almost half of the UK workforce saw either a pay freeze or a pay cut (3% pay cut, 39% pay freeze) in the twelve months to December 2014. In contrast, a similar proportion (40%) have received a pay increase of 2 percent or more and less than a fifth (18%) fall in the middle ground of people who have received a pay increase in the 0.1-1.99 percent corridor. As well as identifying a growing pay divide, the report finds employment confidence is set to remain strong over the next three months with around two thirds of employers (65%) planning to recruit new employees.
February 12, 2015
The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has called on all parliamentary candidates to focus on the built environment in the forthcoming general election. Along with a renewed focus on building more quality homes and schools, RIBA is campaigning for improving the planning process; developing flood-proof communities; delivering energy efficient buildings and retrofitting those that are not; and providing a good quality built environment to accommodate an ageing population and encourage more people to become healthier. The #BuildaBetterBritain campaign is based on RIBA’s report and recommendations, Building a Better Britain: A vision for the next Government. RIBA has created a campaign website to enable architects and constituents to find and make contact with their candidates.
February 11, 2015
Yesterday, the Prime Minister’s Enterprise Advisor Lord Young produced a report into the key trends experienced by the UK’s small businesses over the past five years. According to the headline figures presented by the report, this is a ‘golden era’ for small businesses in the UK, with a record number of small firms in the country. The reported 5.2 million small firms represents an increase of 760,000 over the five year period covered by the study. The report concludes that the main drivers of this upsurge are the growing belief people have in their own ideas and abilities coupled with the technological wherewithal to make them a commercial reality. Lord Young also claims the Government deserves some credit for providing the business landscape for this to happen. But is it really that simple?