Government Property Unit (GPU)
The Government Property Unit (GPU) was established in 2010 as part of the Cabinet Office.
The unit has central oversight over all government land and property, and works collaboratively across the Civil Service to:
- create an effective and efficient government estate
- provide value for money for the taxpayer
- dispose of surplus property in a way that maximises financial return
- boost growth and create new homes
In June 2013 the government published its first Estate Strategy. In October 2014 a more ambitious strategy was published expanding the scope of our work. This aims to use the estate to provide value for money for the taxpayer, deliver better integrated public services and act as an enabler for growth.
As well as managing policy initiatives including One Public Estate, Space for Growth and Right to Contest, the unit helps departments in the following areas:
Rationalising the government estate
We aim to help departments work through place-based strategies across the country to use the government buildings more efficiently and how to bring office supply and demand into balance.
We also enforce National Property Controls. These do not allow lease renewals, sales or acquisitions on new properties without the Minister for the Cabinet Office’s approval.
Using these controls the government reduced the running costs of its estate from May 2010 to March 2014 by £625 million per year. We also supported departments in raising £1.4 billion in capital receipts through disposing of surplus freeholds.
One Public Estate
The One Public Estate programme brings public sector bodies in locality to work together to develop a radically new approach to managing their land and property.
By pooling data on their asset holdings and developing plans to share property and release surplus land and buildings for other uses, the programme will:
- deliver significant savings for the taxpayer
- provide better, more integrated local services, in places which are more convenient for users
- release land and property which can be reused for housing and new enterprise, boosting local jobs, growth and house-building
The first year’s results are an indication of what can be achieved: Across 12 pilot areas, projected savings in running costs are £21 million, with £88 million in capital receipts.
Further land and property released is forecast to lead to the creation of 5,500 jobs and the building of 7,500 new homes over the next 5 years. The total benefit to local economies estimated at £40 million. Building on this success, a further 20 areas have joined the programme.
There is significant potential to speed up this work. This would generate running cost savings and capital receipts of several hundred million pounds, as well as creating tens of thousands of new homes and new jobs.
Tight Asset Management
We help departments manage the government’s accelerated disposals of surplus public sector land and property.
Through the Strategic Land and Property Review, departments have committed to reforms expected to deliver receipts of £3.5 billion. At least a further £1.5 billion is expected to come from further operational reviews of our estate.
Vacant space, Space for Growth and Government Property Finder
There will always be some vacant space in the estate at any point. Some cannot be easily exited, perhaps it is awaiting disposal or lease end but cannot yet be sold or sub-let commercially.
GPU tries to make use of these spaces as premises for start-ups, social enterprises and charities, such as Space for Growth. This is rented at low cost, and the savings allow start up businesses to grow and support social enterprises to build stronger communities.
The public can now find out much more about the Government estate, as well as what is for sale and to rent through the recent launch of Government Property Finder. This site enables more efficient marketing of government’s excess space, buildings and land.
Transforming the way we work
The Way We Work programme focuses on giving staff the right tools, the right environment and modern working practices to realise their potential.
Smart working is not simply about estate rationalisation or building improvements. It’s a people, culture and business transformation programme.
The programme aims to change our understanding of how people and organisations work, the work itself, about how and where it is best done.
Through this process departments have been able to reduce their space without having to squeeze more people into crowded offices.
We are on track to meet the government’s space standard for offices of an average of 10 square metres per full time member of staff by 2015. At the same time, we will ensure workplaces support the way a modern Civil Service operates more effectively.
Property benchmarking provides a robust process for occupiers and estate managers to measure their property’s performance.
Departments and their arm’s length bodies are required to measure performance on all buildings larger than 500 square metres.
This data is collected through the e-PIMS™ platform, with the performance of each building reported to the occupying organisation.
This information forms the basis of the annual property benchmarking programme. The data on its own is often of limited value, what is important is understanding the relations, patterns it reveals.
Civil Estate Property Benchmarking Service
The Civil Estate Property Benchmarking Service measures the performance against:
- private sector benchmarks
- government targets and standards.
These measures provide standardised data definition and consistent reporting across the estate. Benchmarks are based on comparable buildings in the private sector and industry best practice.
To provide a level playing field for comparison, the core data set used for benchmarking uses the basic cost elements, which are available for all buildings.
The Benchmarking team can be contacted via email: Property.firstname.lastname@example.org
Key Performance Indicators
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) allow reliable, like-for-like comparisons between individual buildings, as well as across property portfolios.
The property performance KPIs have 3 areas of analysis:
- cost per person
- space per workstation
- cost per square metre (rent, rates, other costs)
- space per person
- CO2 per person/per square metre
- non-recycled waste per person
- water consumption per person
- management practice score
- facilities score
- compliance and flexibility score
- workplace environment score
- health and safety score
- functional suitability score