Headlines: August 2nd, 2010

Public sector spending on property could be reduced by up to a fifth and prime city-centre property could move from public to private sector use, if changes made by the Home Office could be replicated by other parts of the public sector.

A detailed review of working practices and adoption of new ways of working at the Home Office’s Marsham Street headquarters has meant an extra 650 people can work in the building, generating considerable savings and allowing them to dispose of four other central London buildings.

Advanced Workplace Associates (AWA) worked with the Home Office on the project. Their managing director, Andrew Mawson, said that with a central Government property portfolio costing around £6bn a year to run, significant reductions could be made within five years: “By adopting new ways of working and with its forward-thinking approach, the Home Office has managed to increase the number of staff using its existing headquarters by around 17 per cent. If this model was rolled throughout central and local government the savings would be immense.”

Tony Edwards, Head of Home Office General Property said: “The approach we have taken to implementing flexible working has been successful in making better use of our headquarters. By carefully researching the way the organisation worked, coming up with a tailored business-led change programme and then working with business units to implement it, we have delivered real and significant savings across our central London estate.”

A report by the National Audit Office earlier this year said that central government could save up to £326 million each year by undertaking a strategic approach to property asset management and bringing the performance of buildings into line with the private sector. However, greater savings could be achieved by relocating offices to cheaper areas of the country.