Press release

Government property strategy cuts millions in costs

Francis Maude has set out progress on the government’s property strategy, which aims to save money by using space effectively.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude has set out progress on the Government’s property strategy, which is designed to save money by ensuring office space is used effectively and expensive property leases are reduced.

As part of this strategy, the government has already reduced property related costs by £48 million as a result of the lease moratorium introduced last year. 

In addition, as a further measure to ensure savings, the government has appointed a new advisory panel of property experts. The panel, which will be chaired by Lord Carter of Coles, will provide expert advice to the government when making key decisions on its property requirements and challenge the function of the Government Property Unit.

Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, said:

These savings are an excellent example of how across Whitehall we are driving down back office costs so we can protect important services on the front line.

The moratorium on leases we introduced last year is working well and that is why just earlier this week I announced even tighter national property controls. Our drive for savings doesn’t stop there, the new advisory panel of property experts will help us identify areas were we can save money and ensure that no longer are millions of pounds squandered on expensive property leases and wasted office space.

Head of the Government Property Unit, John McCready said: 

This is a joint effort, and I am very grateful for the positive engagement from Whitehall departments on our efficiency programme. We are in it for the long term, and it is important we build strategies that deal with both the immediate priority of tackling the deficit, whilst safeguarding the interests of future generations. The wealth of expertise on our advisory panel will provide vital insights and challenge to those ideas we are currently developing, to ensure we are doing the right thing. 

Examples of savings include:

  • the Crown Prosecution Service moved from Ludgate Hill to Rose Court in SE1 in June 2010, taking over 15,000 square metres off the civil estate and delivering cost reductions of over £9 million a year;
  • the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) moved from Market Towers in Nine Elms Lane to 151 Buckingham Palace road in SW1, taking over 12,000 square metres off the civil estate and delivering cost reductions of around £6 million a year.
  • the Medical Research Council moving from 20 Park Crescent, W1B to CAA House at 1 Kemble Street taking over 6,400 square metres off the civil estate and delivering cost reductions of £1.1 million a year.

The new set of national property controls across the central, civil and operational estates go beyond the existing lease moratorium and include approval by exemption for any new property acquisitions over £100,000.

The following criteria will be applied as a guideline when implementing these controls: all major refurbishments and new acquisitions of workspace adhere to the workplace standard of 8m2 or less NIA per FTE and a ratio of 8 workstations or fewer per 10 FTEs; and all new facilities management contracts and contract extensions must meet with the a set of compliance criteria.

Head of the Government Property Unit, John McCready, also today outlined these measures when speaking at the annual Government Property conference in London.

Notes to editors:

The Government Property Unit (GPU) is the property function of the efficiency and reform agenda in the Cabinet Office and leads Government’s property strategy across the public sector. It is responsible for delivering the targeted savings, as well improving the built environment and promoting economic growth where possible.

The GPU sits in the Shareholder Executive in Business Innovation and Skills (BIS). It reports to the Minister for the Cabinet Office and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on the core efficiency agenda, and to BIS Ministers on its role in promoting economic growth.

Government’s £370 billion estate costs around £25 billion per annum to run. The NHS and Ministry of Defence estates comprise over half of this annual running cost. This estate is highly diverse, with substantial scope for efficiency improvement. As government is the UK’s largest landowner and largest tenant it is important that there is clarity in what is expected from property and how it is to be achieved.

The members of the advisory panel of property experts include:

Lord Patrick Carter;
David Rossington;
David Higgins;
Gerald Parkes;
Ian Coull;
Jonathan Lane;
Simon Roberts.

Published 3 March 2011