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Government continues reducing size of public sector estate

The government reduced the size of its estate by another 500,000 sq m in 2013, saving £240m on running costs compared to a 2009-10 baseline, the Cabinet Office has said.

The latest State of the Estate Report highlights that since 2010, the government has reduced the size of its estate by 2 million sq m, saving a cumulative £1.2bn (up to March 2013) for the taxpayer.

The four largest departments have all reduced the size of their estates from the previous year, but still make up more than 64% of the total: the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) holds 18.9% of the total estate; the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) 17.8%; the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) 14.9%; and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) 12.5%.

By region, London has the largest amount of occupied space at 1,687,036 sq m. This is a reduction of 100,000 sq m over the previous year but still represents 19.3% of the total estate, a similar proportion when compared with earlier years.

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude MP said: “As part of our long-term economic plan this government is shrinking its estate, getting out of land 26 times the size of Buckingham Palace over the last four years.

“We are on the side of hard-working people so I’m pleased we saved taxpayers a cumulative £1.2bn between the last general election and March 2013 by getting out of or selling unnecessary and under-used properties.”

The report also shows that in 2013 there was a 7.6% reduction in the cost of office space per employee compared to 2011-12; office space per employee was down from 13sq m to 11.9sq m in the same period; carbon emissions were down by 14% and waste produced was down by 15% against 2009-10 levels.

However, the average cost of space per sq m increased slightly from £409/sq m in 2011/12 to £414/sq m in 2012-13, a rise of 1.2%. But this remains 3% lower than the private sector average.

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