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State of the Estate: 2014-15

Volume 605: debated on Wednesday 3 February 2016

I have today laid before Parliament, pursuant to section 86 of the Climate Change Act 2008, the “State of the Estate in 2014-15”. This report describes the efficiency and sustainability of the Government’s civil estate and records the progress that Government have made since the previous year and since 2010. The report is published on an annual basis.

In the past year, the Government have saved £842 million by selling empty buildings and exiting expensive rentals. Since 2010, we have raised £1.8 billion in capital receipts and reduced the size of the estate by nearly a quarter, exiting 2.4 million square metres of unneeded space—an area larger than the entire state of Monaco. All this has been achieved while cutting carbon emissions by 22%.

The amount of space used by an average staff member in our offices fell to 10.4 square metres in 2014-15, from 11.3 square metres in 2013-14, a reduction of 8% in one year. This is an enormous achievement, and makes the UK Government one of the most space-efficient major organisations in the world. But we can achieve even more. A new space target of 8 square metres per person was set on 1 January 2016, and we are confident of meeting this target by the end of March 2018.

We will also adopt the new international property measurement standard introduced in January 2016 by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, which will future-proof the way we measure Government buildings and ensure consistency across the UK and internationally.

Our drive for more modern, efficient and smarter workplaces for our workforce continues. The autumn statement confirmed and funded three key cross-departmental property programmes for this Parliament. The first is the Government hubs programme to reduce the Government estate from 800 buildings to fewer than 200 by 2023. Departments’ workforces within a locality will be accommodated in 18-22 multi-departmental hubs across the UK, allowing us to achieve economies of scale, enabling easier cross-departmental collaboration as well as having important benefits for recruitment and retention.

Within this programme is the Whitehall campus project. Government’s central London estate has already reduced from 181 separate properties in 2010 to 54 now, and we expect this number to fall to some 20 efficient, fit-for-purpose buildings by 2025, supported by smarter working. We will retain core buildings in Whitehall, relocating civil servants to well-connected hubs both in London and beyond, and accommodating those that remain in central London in the most cost-effective way possible, with many departments sharing buildings.

The report can be accessed online at:

http://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/497449/2014-15_State_of_ the_Estate_accessible.pdf

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