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Government publishes map of 180,000 publicly owned assets

Communities secretary Eric Pickles has unveiled a map of more than 180,000 assets owned by almost 600 public sector bodies, including central and local government.

The map details all the buildings and facilities belonging to 87 councils in England and is designed to help identify where savings could be made.

Mr Pickles told Today programme it was “not about disposing of the family silver…its about giving it a good polish and using it more”.

The move comes as the communities department told councils they must publish lists of their assets to show which ones can be sold off instead of cutting services.

DCLG estimates public sector assets to be worth an estimated £385 billion, with almost two thirds owned by councils.

Among these are assets including hotels, golf courses, cinemas, pubs and an airport.

Mr Pickles said: “We need to know, now more than ever, exactly what assets are publicly owned. The general public probably have no idea of the sheer scale and scope of property and land on the public sector’s books. In many cases it goes way beyond traditional frontline services.

“I want the public sector to take a good hard look at what they own. By cataloguing each and every asset councils can help government find innovative new ways to utilise them, improve local services, keep council running costs down and save taxpayers’ money.”

Large contractors and support services providers have already begun to target the opportunities on offer from councils looking to dispose of assets and rationalise their estates.

A report published earlier this year and sponsored by Interserve outlined the potential for £7bn of savings government could make through more efficient estate management.

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