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Council property sharing scheme open to new applicants

The One Public Estate programme, designed to help councils save millions in running costs and create thousands of new homes, has been expanded to new applicants. 

The Local Government Association (LGA) told PSE that a further 15 local authorities will be able to take advantage of the initiative. 

Launched in 2013, the first phase of the programme, which is funded by the Cabinet Office Government Property Unit and delivered by the LGA, has seen 12 pilot councils improve results for residents and generate significant savings. 

For instance, projected savings for the first year are £21m, with £88m in capital receipts, while it is thought local economies will benefit to the tune of £40m. 

Due to the success of the first 12 months, the programme is being expanded with successful authorities receiving £40,000 in initial funding, as well as comprehensive support from the GPU and LGA, access to Whitehall Departments and LGA officials to enable them to work with central government and leverage funding from other sources. 

Applications from local authorities for the programme must be received no later than 4pm on 12 May 2014. 

Cllr Peter Fleming, chair of the LGA's Improvement Board, said: “At a time when local government has faced cuts of 40% since 2010 this is a great opportunity for councils to reap the benefits of the assets they hold. Such work can have a significant impact and, from the pilot, we have seen examining assets can make councils more efficient, with better results. 

“Through the extension of the One Public Estate programme more councils can benefit from using their public assets effectively and we look forward to receiving their applications." 

During the application process councils must meet four pre-selection criteria: 

  • Councils must be willing to support the development of mapping which brings together their assets with those of central government and other local bodies;
  • Councils must provide up to date information on the estimated value of all local authority owned land and buildings within their authority in their application;
  • If not already in place, councils must set up a property delivery board/forum with strategic local partners to drive delivery of their programme; and
  • If not already in place, produce a strategic asset plan for their area and to work in partnership with central government. 

In return for delivering these, local authorities will be able to take advantage of the scheme to support economic growth, generate capital receipts, reduce running costs and deliver more integrated and customer-focused services, the LGA stated. 

Francis Maude, minister for the Cabinet Office, added: “This programme clearly shows the significant opportunities for efficiency and growth when central and local government work together and leverage their land and property in order to encourage regeneration and co-located services that benefit the taxpayer. I look forward to expanding this programme across the country.” 

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