AMs slam Welsh Government’s estate management

22 Aug 13
Millions of pounds of public money could be saved if the Welsh Government tightened up management of its own estate and stopped regarding buildings as parts of ‘ministerial fiefdoms’, according to Welsh Assembly members.

By Mark Smulian | 23 August 2013

Millions of pounds of public money could be saved if the Welsh Government tightened up management of its own estate and stopped regarding buildings as parts of ‘ministerial fiefdoms’, according to Welsh Assembly members.

A report from the Assembly’s finance committee, Asset management in the public sector, said Welsh government departments had different approaches to property assets that were largely independent of each other and lacked any unified policy.

This practice was ‘in sharp contrast’ to the Welsh Government’s own requirement that local authorities must formulate estate management strategies.

Committee chair Jocelyn Davies said the Welsh Government suffered from ‘a confusing sub-division of assets where individual ministerial fiefdoms take precedence over an integrated whole’.

She said: ‘Changing economic conditions have brought new interest to the unheralded world of asset management.

‘At its simplest, efficient management of assets saves money. The less you have to spend on accommodation, the more there is to go in to frontline services.’

Davies called for a unified approach to Welsh Government assets, with an asset management plan, and for greater collaboration on property management both across the country’s wider public sector.

The committee also urged a review of the incentives and disincentives which affect asset transfers across the Welsh public sector.

Health bodies, for example, were permitted to keep only the first £500,000 of any asset sale, which the committee thought might ‘discourage large scale activity’.

This should change to allow bodies to retain a fixed proportion of an asset’s sale value, it said.

Information was also incomplete, and the committee said that while this was readily available for 41 administrative offices, more detail was needed on other government property assets, including industrial estates and business parks.


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