We have made fantastic progress over the last year, and there are some impressive figures to share.
- Over the course of a year, the government estate has reduced by 300,000 square metres – the equivalent of seven Wembley stadiums.
- Vacant space in the central estate declined by over a third, meaning that it now represents just 1.4% of the central estate. Considering that the average in the private sector is 8.9%, this is a considerable achievement.
- We have made running-cost savings of £176 million – a reduction of over 7%.
- And we have secured almost £1 billion in capital receipts from the sale of surplus properties, including Admiralty Arch and the Old War Office. This is a notable step towards the commitment to securer £5 billion in receipts by 2020, which will release land sufficient for 160,000 homes.
Impressive as these numbers are, the work we do on the government estate is about more than savings for the taxpayer or reducing the size of the estate.
I have written here before about our Government Hubs and One Public Estate programmes – the latter of which was recently extended to cover 72% of all local authorities
These initiatives show our commitment to rethinking the way the Civil Service works and uses its property.
The Hubs programme, in particular, enables us to take advantage of advances in technology to help us work more collaboratively and give civil servants more power over how and when they work
This is ‘smart working’ in action, and it is revolutionising the way we operate. It is an integral part of the new Hubs programme, but it is happening all over the Civil Service as well.
Some of the best examples of Smart Working were celebrated at the recent TW3 (The Way We Work) Awards at the BT Tower in London.
Winners included the Home Office, whose Smarter Working Programme led to the design of a groundbreaking new office building in Manchester. This offered staff flexibility in their working arrangements and provided them with modern technology. Staff surveys showed increased staff satisfaction, motivation and engagement as a result.
The Department for Transport was also recognised for how it has made Smart Working part of its brand to attract and retain talented employees. Because Smart Working is introduced from the outset,with blogs, webchats and face-to-face presentations used to embed it as a default working practice during the induction process, new staff understand it to be a fundamental part of their values. The success of this initiative has led to the department running a location-neutral recruitment pilot, where they will advertise posts that can be filled in any location.
The Infrastructure Projects Authority was another winner, for its online social network, ‘The Government Project Delivery Community (GovPDC)’, which is used across the whole of government. GovPDC was launched last autumn to help people working in project delivery connect with each other.
As a Civil Service, it is vital that we embrace the opportunities that innovation and technology offer us to improve our working environment, enable more collaboration between and across departments and, in turn deliver better outcomes for the public.
The TW3 Award winners are fantastic examples of how we are making the Civil Service a ‘Great Place to Work’, one of the four pillars of ‘A Brilliant Civil Service’. As progress in Smart Working continues, I look forward to seeing more of these examples in the months and years to come.