Matt Hancock on 3 February revealed that the government has reduced the size of its estate by the equivalent of 336 football pitches since 2010. He has called on local authorities to increase transparency by publishing their own estate rationalisation data.
The minister was speaking at the Government Property 2016 Conference, where he launched the latest State of the Estate report outlining the government’s progress in consolidating and modernising its estate. The report shows that the government estate has shrunk by 2.4m square metres since 2010 – a 22% reduction equivalent to 336 football pitches, 43 Shards, or more than the entire principality of Monaco. This means that the total central government estate has fallen below 5,000 holdings for the first time and could fit inside the area of West Finchley.
This has been achieved by selling underused property ranging from the historic Old War Office to an old bakery and lighthouse. It was also formally announced today that Blythe House, which is well known as the MI6 HQ in the award winning film Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and a historic site with great commercial potential at the Liverpool Docks will be sold and put to better use.
This forms part of the government’s determination to save over £2bn over the next 10 years by rationalising its office estate. It was also announced by the minister today that the government plans to reduce its total number of offices by 75% before 2023, moving from 800 to 200 offices.
Nowhere is this change more visible than in central London, where today’s report confirmed that the number of government offices has fallen from 181 in 2010 to just 54 today. The intention is to further reduce this number to around 20 buildings by 2025.
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Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General Matt Hancock said:
“We have a laser focus on cutting the deficit, supporting growth and providing more houses. To that end, we’re determined to release property the government no longer needs and get out of expensive rentals that aren’t offering value for money.
“Today’s report shows the progress we’ve made in creating a more modern and efficient estate, with £1.8bn already saved for taxpayers. But there is still a lot more we can do. That’s why I’m calling on people across the country to get involved by challenging us through the Right to Contest scheme to release properties we’re not using efficiently enough.”