One Public Estate

By Clive Bleasdale | 30 June 2016

Consolidation of local government services and assets under the Public Service Transformation initiative is resulting in a focus on how best to manage public sector assets in a way that supports government aims to promote growth and get public sector organisations to live within their own means.

In terms of the delivery of projects under One Public Estate, or estate consolidation projects of a similar nature, we have seen that one size does not fit all.
A number of projects have led to the establishment of property service companies which are essentially shared service organisations. These companies are then empowered to use economies of scale in terms of procuring solutions for the management of the estate of the participating organisations and reducing FM costs.
The property company also then acts as a hub to consolidate the information around the combined estate, look at surpluses and need and try to match these requirements to ensure any needs for additional space are met through the existing estate.
Other schemes have gone further and have transferred capital or assets into a new corporate vehicle such as an LLP or limited company, for example, the development of a new £15m headquarters by Derbyshire FRS and Derbyshire Police. This has had the benefit of protecting the capital investment of each party and delivering income to the parties in line with their capital share.
Emergency service estate collaboration could now form part of the general duty to collaborate which is currently making its way through parliament. It provides particularly fertile ground in that mapping exercises carried out on behalf of a number of emergency service organisations have shown considerable overlap, and an ability to reduce the footprint of the estate without affecting response times or frontline services.
Some ambitious organisations are also looking at further partnerships that can deliver further returns from the surplus estate and the renewal or replacement of old facilities by engaging a partner to participate in a Local Asset Backed Vehicle structure.
A body of knowledge and expertise is there though which can be accessed to consider and implement how arrangements can be made to work to deliver functional – as well as cost effective – solutions, so a modern, fit-for-purpose, and efficient core estate exists, which provides value for money for the taxpayer, increases sustainability and enables improvements in the way the organisation’s work is achieved.

Clive Bleasdale is partner real estate, Weightmans LLP

This column is brought to you by Weightmans

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