March 13, 2013
The Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude has claimed that central Government departments in the UK have now raised more than £1 billion by selling unused property since 2010. He also claimed that government departments have saved an additional £168 million with the termination of leases on unwanted buildings. The landmark figure was reached with the sale of St. Dunstan’s House (above), formerly home to the Ministry of Justice to Taylor Wimpey who will be converting the site into – what else? – a residential project of 76 apartments designed by David Walker Architects.
Making the announcement Francis Maude said: “It’s remarkable that the government was paying for property that it just wasn’t using. In the past Government took out expensive leases at the taxpayer’s expense on new properties even though freehold space was under-used or even empty. Our strategy is to get out of expensive leases and concentrate on the properties we actually own. Since the General Election we have slashed wasteful spend on buildings and negotiated great money making deals. The £1 billion pounds we have saved the taxpayer represents £60 for every working family.”
According to Maude, the next phase of the Government’s restructuring of its property will be a greater focus on flexible working and shared space. This will build on approaches developed in particular during the Olympics last year with the introduction of ‘touchdown hubs’ and buildings which will be shared by staff from different Government departments.
Maude has been much in the news in the property sector in recent weeks, highlighting the £3.5 billion worth of economic benefits associated with new Government approaches to property reported by Knight Frank in February while steering well clear of any association with last week’s announcement that the Government was completely failing to meet its much trumpeted target to increase spending with SMEs.