The Scottish Futures Trust has published a series of robust proposals to improve asset management within the Scottish Government and Local Civil Estates, which, when implemented, would deliver tangible savings in excess of £500 million over the next five years.
After submitting recommendations to be considered by the Independent Budget Review panel on improving public sector asset management, SFT’s proposals were welcomed and emphasised in the panel’s final report as a strong course of action for the Government to take.
Subsequently, SFT was asked by John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth to carry out a pilot project in the South East hub territory* on enhanced asset management and estate planning within Local Civil Estates. In addition, SFT carried out a separate project examining the Scottish Government’s Civil Estate looking at areas to achieve greater value from centrally-held land and property assets.
In the Local Civil Estate Report, SFT recognised that whilst a significant amount of good work was being carried out by local authorities, NHS Boards and police and fire authorities to rationalise their assets, much more could be achieved if they were to collaborate on asset management initiatives. When fully implemented, SFT estimates that its asset management recommendations for the whole of Scotland would save in excess of £500 million over the next five years.
In the Scottish Government Civil Estate Report, SFT highlighted that significant savings could exist simply by either the Scottish Government reducing or selling off surplus office space, thereby cutting the size of its estate by at least 25% and saving approximately £28 million per annum.
Barry White, chief executive of Scottish Futures Trust, explained: "SFT is well positioned to be the catalyst for change as we have the requisite skills to accelerate the programme of asset rationalisation and deliver further value-for-money savings to the public purse. The collaborative approach to asset management was recognised as a way forward in the Christie Commission report and SFT has the capability to work effectively across all public sector organisations to implement the programmes.
"There is significant financial value in most of the public sector property estate. It is also evident that, if these assets are managed well and linked to new ways of working, this will make a significant contribution, not only to reduced asset running costs but also to the efficient delivery of operational services. The opportunity also exists for public sector bodies to collaborate and to realise the potential of working across organisational boundaries to achieve their own and common goals."
Sir Angus Grossart, chairman of Scottish Futures Trust, stated: "A clear and comprehensive approach to property asset management needs to be at the very heart of public sector strategic business and financial planning. The reports, whilst providing a detailed framework for delivering significant benefits over a five year period, also illustrate the huge amount of vital work being carried out by SFT to continually look at innovative ways to minimise public sector costs and deliver maximum value to the people of Scotland."