Public land in England made available for sale rises 144%

14 Aug 17

The amount of public sector land up for sale in England has more than doubled, Labour analysis has revealed. 

Figures from the Commons library indicated the amount of NHS land under consideration for sale last financial year was more than 1,332 hectares, up 144% from the 545.7 hectares identified in 2015/16. 

The figures, released by the Labour party on Thursday last week, also show the surplus NHS land put up for sale went up by 125 plots from 418 plots in 2015/16 to 543 plots in the space of a year.

The Naylor Review, released in March, argued that selling NHS property which was surplus to requirements could earn the public sector up to £5bn.

Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s shadow health secretary, said: “Crumbling hospitals are in desperate need of investment for repair and renewal.

“But government must provide that investment, not strip hospitals of their assets and force them into a fire sale.”

He suggested the government was “keeping details secret” of the increased amount of NHS land that was being made available for sale.

Ashworth accused the government of drawing up “secret plans” to carry out a sale of valuable assets to plug a black hole in their finances.

Details on more than half of the available area in the governments annual round up of NHS surplus land was redacted due to “issues of sensitivity”, fuelling complaints about the secrecy of the proposals.

In addition over a hundred sites which have been identified as surplus are currently used for clinical or medical purposes.

Ashworth said the health service needed an urgent injection of resources after years of underfunding, adding “the answer is not a blanket sell off of sites which are currently being used for patient care”.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: “There will be no ‘fire sale’ of NHS assets, but we continue with our ongoing efforts to help hospitals dispose of land they do not need.

“This will provide vital funds for the NHS to spend on patient care and free-up space for much needed homes.”

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