Committee reveals £800 million of potential savings on government buildings

September 03, 2012 11:38 AM

The Public Accounts Committee announced  that government departments could cut the cost of running buildings by a whopping £800 million. Margaret Hodge MP, who chairs the committee, said that such savings could be made if departments were incentivised to ‘work together’ by the Cabinet Office’s Government Property Unit.

The committee recommended that local and central government co-operate to maximise savings by sharing office space and selling or letting unused buildings. This has the potential for huge savings to the £1.8 billion annual cost of running central government buildings.  The Cabinet Office responded with a statement saying that it would consider the Public Accounts Committee’s conclusions ‘carefully’, but insisted that costs had already been cut by £200 million in 2011-12. It also highlighted its revenue of £640 million in the last two years from selling government properties and its pilot projects with councils in Bristol and Preston which aim to let empty office space to small businesses and free schools.

This is clearly very good news during a time when local and national government need to reduce spending. But as the PAC report shows, there is still huge scope to make savings.  The Cabinet Office should act on the findings of the report and work towards getting better value for taxpayers’ money. Government departments co-operating in key areas will help to deliver more effective and efficient public services, rather than bureaucratic Whitehall empires run by power-hungry mandarins.The Public Accounts Committee announced  that government departments could cut the cost of running buildings by a whopping £800 million. Margaret Hodge MP, who chairs the committee, said that such savings could be made if departments were incentivised to ‘work together’ by the Cabinet Office’s Government Property Unit.

The committee recommended that local and central government co-operate to maximise savings by sharing office space and selling or letting unused buildings. This has the potential for huge savings to the £1.8 billion annual cost of running central government buildings.  The Cabinet Office responded with a statement saying that it would consider the Public Accounts Committee’s conclusions ‘carefully’, but insisted that costs had already been cut by £200 million in 2011-12. It also highlighted its revenue of £640 million in the last two years from selling government properties and its pilot projects with councils in Bristol and Preston which aim to let empty office space to small businesses and free schools.

This is clearly very good news during a time when local and national government need to reduce spending. But as the PAC report shows, there is still huge scope to make savings.  The Cabinet Office should act on the findings of the report and work towards getting better value for taxpayers’ money. Government departments co-operating in key areas will help to deliver more effective and efficient public services, rather than bureaucratic Whitehall empires run by power-hungry mandarins.

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