More councils join government property-sharing scheme

5 Aug 14

Twenty councils from across England have been selected for the expansion of a Whitehall programme to help central and local government cut costs by sharing offices and other property.

The authorities, which include six from Greater Manchester as well as Liverpool and Birmingham city councils, have been picked to join the Cabinet Office and Local Government Association’s One Public Estate scheme. This brings town halls and central government departments together to devise ways to use the local public sector estate more efficiently so running costs can be cut and capital receipts raised.

This second group of authorities, which also include Plymouth, Southampton and Cornwall, will join the 12 pilot councils that took part in the first phase of the programme last year. This initial stage made savings estimated at £21m in running costs and raised £88m in capital receipts.

Under the initiative, councils will receive funding and training from the Government Property Unit and LGA to put local proposals on rationalising the public sector estate into practice. Examples of savings from the pilot schemes include a reduction in the number of council offices in Hull from 43 to 29, and Surrey County Council freeing enough land for the construction of 340 homes.

Peter Fleming, LGA improvement and innovation board chair, said the programme demonstrated what could be achieved through property reforms.

‘The first round has been extremely successful and this second round will continue to build on the good work achieved so far. Local authorities have been in the driving seat and the achievements made during the first wave represent a tiny proportion of what we believe One Public Estate can achieve.’

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude added the scheme would free up buildings in addition to the 1,250 that the government has got out of since 2010.

‘This programme shows what can be done when central and local government work together, and it’s great to see more and more local authorities entering the programme and demonstrating a readiness to save money for taxpayers, create new jobs and deliver better services by using their assets more efficiently.’

 

The 20 authorities taking part in the second phase of the One Public Estate programme are:

Manchester, Trafford, Bury, Oldham, Salford and Stockport

Norfolk and Suffolk in partnership with Forest Heath district and St. Edmundsbury borough councils

Liverpool

Birmingham

Barnet

Croydon

Plymouth

Southampton

Kent

York

Cornwall

Bradford (subject to agreement to work in partnership with Leeds)

The 12 authorities in the first phase were:

Bristol

Cheshire West and Chester

Essex

Hampshire

Hull 

Leeds 

Nottingham

Portsmouth

Sheffield

Surrey

Warrington

Worcestershire

 

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