Government to focus on moving out of 'high cost' offices in new estate plan

Minister reveals renewed focus for property following Spending Review
Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA Archive/PA Images

By Richard Johnstone

03 Nov 2021

The Cabinet Office is working on a revised government estate strategy that will focus on moving departments and agencies out of buildings with high operating and maintenance costs, Lord Agnew has revealed.

The minister, who holds his post jointly between the Treasury and the Cabinet Office, revealed the development of the plan in a letter to the Public Accounts Committee chair Meg Hillier, in which he also said that the government had met the 2015 Spending Review target of raise £5bn in capital receipts.

The 2021 Spending Review last month confirmed continued long-term funding for the Places for Growth programme to support the government's goal to move 22,000 civil service roles outside London by 2030. A number of departments have announced the creation of regional offices in recent months, including an economic campus led by the Treasury in Darlington, and a Wolverhampton base for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

Agnew told Hillier that following the Spending Review, “we plan to update our government estate strategy to reflect our vision and objectives for the government estate”.

The strategy will continue the focus on reducing the size of the government estate, he said, “albeit with more focus on divesting of property with high operating costs and maintenance liabilities than capital receipts”.

The current government estate strategy was published in July 2018 and included the government’s goal to “create the foundations to locate up to a thousand public sector jobs out of London and the surrounding area” as the first step of a “major, long-term programme which will move many organisations and thousands of jobs, including a full range of professions and senior grades, over the next twelve years”.

The Government Property Agency, which was also established in 2018, is now leading the creation of up to 50 government hubs by 2030 to create the facilitates needed for officials to be moved out of London, and for government to leave existing buildings.

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