‘Maturing’ departments get more control over property spend

Cabinet Office says departments are now "ready" to take more responsibility for their own spending
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By Tevye Markson

17 Apr 2023

Departments will be given more freedom to make financial decisions about property thanks to their “increased maturity” in managing spending.

The Cabinet Office has raised the threshold above which when it conducts checks of departments’ property spending from £100,000 to £500,000.

The department said the relaxation of the controls “reflect continuous improvements in oversight and governance of spending within departments”.

Departments are required to submit requests for planned spending that exceeds the stipulated threshold, justifying the spend. Approval can then be granted – or denied – by specialised Cabinet Office teams.

The property spend controls will now apply to rental expenditure above £500,000 during a lease commitment, or freehold value above the half-a-million figure. Approval for property transactions in Greater London will still be required for spending above £250,000.

“Cabinet Office spend controls allow additional scrutiny on specific areas of spend and have been strengthened since their inception to increase compliance and effectiveness of the controlled spend areas," reads fresh guidance published last week.

"The increased maturity of departments and other central government bodies resulting from these controls means we can now rely more on departments’ internal governance arrangements.

The Cabinet Office told CSW the change will “reduce bureaucracy” and allow it to focus on the most high-value property transactions where it can “add the most value” through scrutiny.

The guidance update comes just a few months after the CSW's sister publication PublicTechnology revealed the department had removed consultancy and professional-services spend controls.

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