June 25, 2013
The UK Cabinet Office has announced details of a new pilot scheme covering 12 local authorities in England which will encourage councils to work with central government departments and other bodies to share buildings and re-use or release property and land deemed surplus to requirements and so cut spending and free up land for local development. The ‘One Public Sector Estate’ scheme will also enable councils to share services and follow the path of central government which has its own schemes to cut costs and divest or find new uses for its property portfolio. Chloë Smith, the Parliamentary Secretary for the Cabinet Office who will be delivering the scheme in partnership with the Local Government Association, also believes the scheme will boost the UK economy and encourage regeneration and development at a local level.
The initial pilot areas in England are:
Cheshire West and Chester
Each local authority is expected to apply local knowledge to make more informed decisions about the use, development and divestment of property. The onus will be on delivering more efficient solutions which might include the sharing of property and the sale of land as a way of boosting local economies and promoting development.
Announcing the scheme Chloë Smith said: ‘Millions of pounds can be wasted by services using expensive buildings when there’s a half empty property down the road – that’s taxpayers’ money which could be used in so many other ways. This policy will save money – but also promote growth and bring in jobs locally. In central government, we’re working hard to ensure the taxpayer does not have to pay for empty buildings. Already, we’ve raised over £1 billion nationally by getting departments to work together and use their property more efficiently. It’s great to see local authorities making such good progress, by thinking in new ways about property issues.’