Mixed response to Government office conversion plans

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As predicted earlier this week, the government has confirmed new measures that will allow office space to be converted into homes without the need for planning permission. Further reforms are also intended to help boost rural communities and create jobs by allowing agricultural buildings to be converted for other business use, such as shops, offices, restaurants or leisure facilities without the need for planning permission. But the scheme has met with a decidedly mixed response from organisations as diverse as the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and local authority chiefs.  More →

Happiness levels in UK workplaces growing, says Government.

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smiley faceThe general level of satisfaction in the UK’s workplaces has increased significantly in spite of ongoing economic uncertainty according to a report from the Government published yesterday. The study of more than 21,000 employees, found that job satisfaction levels actually increased in 2012 with a fifth (20 per cent) of employees either ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with all aspects of their job, compared to just 16 per cent in 2004 when the survey last appeared. The report also showed that levels of commitment to individual employers had also increased over the same period, with the proportion of employees who said they shared the values of their organisation up from 55 per cent to 65 per cent. More →

UK’s Centre for Cities launches Outlook 2013 report

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cit_0000The Centre for Cities has today published the latest issue of its flagship Cities Outlook report in conjunction with the Local Government Association. The report has been published annually since 2008, identifying trends and key economic indicators from the UK’s largest cities. This year’s report is extensive in its coverage of a range of issues but focusses on construction, especially of housing, as an engine of growth.  Several towns including Milton Keynes, Brighton and Northampton are singled out for their high levels of private sector investment and employment.

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Cabinet for Core Cities looks to reshape the English economy

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A newly formed Cabinet of Core Cities met for the first time in Liverpool on Friday, seeking to reshape England and call on the Government to work with it to maximise the economic potential of the regions by creating a more balanced economic structure for the country and develop policies that would create jobs and investment. The cities represent the urban centres of Manchester, Nottingham, Newcastle, Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Bristol and Sheffield.

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Consensus in property industry for green agenda

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The UK Green Building Council, backed by a wide range of trade and professional organisations across the construction and property sector, has sent an open letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne demanding a suite of policy changes to make the most of the green growth opportunity. The level of collaboration and consensus from within the industry is unprecedented, and includes, among others, support from the British Property Federation, Construction Products Association, British Council for Offices and Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.

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CPA: UK construction activity will fall in 2013

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The UK’s Construction Products Association (CPA) has today reported that it expects overall construction activity in the UK to fall by around 2 per cent this year, with most of the decline attributed to a greater than 5 per cent drop in commercial projects. Particularly concerning is the fact that the Government’s austerity measures with regard to public sector investment have not been offset by an increase in private sector activity. However these figures still represent an improvement on the 9 per cent fall of 2011.  More →

Contractors to be appointed for defence estates projects

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Some of the UK’s biggest contractors have been invited by the Ministry of Defence to bid for a range of construction projects across its estate as part of the new National Capital Works Framework. The companies will be chosen by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) to deliver the design and build of construction projects up to a value of £50m. The framework forms part of the Next Generation Estate Contracts programme which was announced in December. More →

Govt looking to save £600m with shared services

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The latest wheeze from the Government as it looks to ‘streamline’ the public sector’s back-office functions including purchasing is to create two Independent Shared Service Centres as part of the Next Generation Shared Service Plan. Pick through the usual gobbledegook and acronyms and what you will find are some significant developments  as The Cabinet Office seeks to save up to £600 million a year in administration costs. More →

Mayor announces green fit-out of 400 buildings

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City_HallThirteen building services contractors have been awarded a contract to retrofit around 400 London public sector buildings to make them more energy efficient. The work is being carried out as part of London Mayor Boris Johnson’s RE:FIT initiative. The new programme of work is expected to last four years and will see contractors guarantee a set level of savings based on the energy conservation measures implemented. More →

Councils told to pool procurement resources

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Manchester Town HallBritain’s local authorities have been told by the Government to find more ways to share back office functions and buy goods and services together to gain discounts and reduce costs. In a document, 50 ways to save: examples of sensible savings in local government, published by the Department for Communities and Local Government in December, councils were given a number of ideas about how they could reduce their annual spend. The report can be seen here.
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Report of poor public sector procurement practices

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Many firms that have worked with the public sector will have their own particular stories about the failings of its procurement processes. The Government’s promise to look into this has now led to it publishing a report from the Cabinet Office released just before Christmas (great timing as ever). You can see the report looking at the failings of public procurement as reported by the supply side here. Or -straight from the horse’s mouth – an interview with Sally Collier, Government Deputy Chief Procurement Officer here.

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