A new Whitehall unit should be set up to squeeze efficiencies out of the public sector property portfolio, Lord Carter’s review has recommended, Local Government Chronicle has reported.
This central property function would be based in the Treasury and its remit would extend beyond that of the Office of Government Commerce to include all public sector organisations, says Labour peer Lord Carter of Coles’ report, which is part of a wide-ranging government efficiency review published today.
The unit would help all public bodies to develop strategic property plans and with complex projects and procurements. The OGC currently deals with just central government departments and their agencies.
The new unit would work with the Homes and Community Agency to ensure that sites are vetted for their suitability for affordable housing or other socially worthwhile projects.
The report found that the government could save £1.5 billion in running costs by 2013-14 rising to £5 billion within ten years. Over the whole decade, it estimates that the public sector could achieve £20 billion worth of proceeds from property sales.
Lord Carter also suggests new incentives to encourage the more efficient use of local government property including creating a new mechanism to measure how its estate depreciates in value.
By David Blackman, deputy editor, Local Government Chronicle