The latest Government wheeze to cut its property costs is an extension of the lease moratorium that was first introduced last year. The ban on signing new Government leases was first imposed last year for a period of ten months, but has been so successful in cutting costs - £48 million since last year – that it has been extended to 2015.
The extension was announced by the Head of the Government Property Unit, John McCready who also announced that the new set of national property controls would not merely be extended in time. The moratorium is now to be spread across the central, civil and operational estates which go beyond the existing lease moratorium and include approval by exemption for any new property acquisitions over £100,000.
The savings already made include those accrued as the Crown Prosecution Service moved from Ludgate Hill to Rose Court last year, at a stroke reducing the public estate by around 15,000 square metres and reducing the associated annual costs by over £9million.
Although temporary, the moratorium is also a sign of the changing nature of the market. Radical thinking is being applied to every facet of the public sector estate, from the way space is planned to the way it is owned.