Ground-breaking initiative that will revolutionise public sector asset management in the West Midlands receives backing from the Cabinet Office
The UK’s first public sector collaboration of its kind to maximise value from a range of public sector property and land assets has today received backing from the Cabinet Office, with the formation of a revolutionary single asset management company serving a partnership of public sector organisations in the West Midlands. The innovative commercial company will drive economic growth, service integration and trigger millions of pounds in savings.
The unique new company will create significant economic benefits across the six member organisations, by establishing smarter, more commercial ways of working and enhancing the range of services provided to the public through the better management of a portfolio of assets, such as management of major outsourced services and energy management.
Marking a major milestone in this innovative development, Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service, Redditch Borough Council, Warwickshire Police, West Mercia Police, Worcester City Council and Worcestershire County Council have now all formally agreed to own part of the pioneering new company and will now work together to enhance and integrate the services they provide, boost regional economic growth and optimise the efficiency of the assets they manage.
The formation of the new company will bring the asset management functions together for the first time in UK public sector history. Maximising the value to the economy of 1,323 assets across the six organisations will create significant efficiencies, improve operational services and initially employ around 200 staff. The company aims to deliver gross cost savings of approximately £58 million (excluding school savings) between 2015 and 2025.
Importantly, the new organisation will revolutionise the asset management model by creating a new commercial company, owned by the public sector, to deliver the services required. It is not based on the traditional ‘shared services’ approach.
Warwickshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Ball, speaking on behalf of the new company, said: “We’re excited that our pioneering approach has now become a reality in the West Midlands. This is the first time that public sector organisations in the UK have formed a company to manage their property assets more efficiently than ever before, and demonstrate national leadership in the area of asset management. By working together, we can improve the way we serve our communities on the ground throughout the West Midlands in a way that supports economic growth, delivers operational efficiencies, maximises the value from property assets and unlocks savings. These savings can be used to improve front line services, promote economic growth and unlock community investment by way of regeneration and renewal. We intend to provide a national model of best practice, which can be adopted by other public sector organisations to deliver efficient, streamlined and cost-effective asset management services.”
Commenting on the news, Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude MP added: “As part of this Government's long-term economic plan we have got out of 1650 buildings since the last General Election generating hundreds of millions in savings and creating more opportunities for housing and jobs. This important work has contributed to efficiency and reform savings for hard-working taxpayers of £14.3 billion in 2013/1 4, against a 2009/10 baseline.
“The One Public Estate programme shows what can be done when central and local Government work together. I hope other public sector bodies will learn from this ground breaking approach in the West Midlands which will help deliver better services by working more collaboratively."
The unique joint property company concept has been developed as part of the One Public Estate Programme, which is funded by the Government Property Unit (GPU) and designed to help councils across England generate significant efficiencies by adopting a customer focused approach to existing public assets.
Bruce Mann, Executive Director of GPU at the Cabinet Office, has been acting as the independent Chair of the Shadow Shareholder Group (SSG), which will oversee the creation of the company until the new Management Board is in place. He explained: “The One Public Estate Programme has been created to deliver a more cost efficient and customer-focused public estate and the joint property company that has now been formed in the West Midlands is a perfect example of how this aspiration can be realised. I look forward to seeing the new programme gather momentum and provide an example for others to take forward.”
The SSG will now take the next steps in establishing the company, which will include developing the company’s structure, creating a new helpdesk model linked to a single database and announcing a name and brand.