Public sector buildings "not keeping pace with changing demands"
Welsh land and buildings not delivering value for money, says Auditor General
The Welsh public sector spends over £500 million each year running land and buildings worth some £12 billion. But most organisations' land and buildings are not keeping pace with changing demands or delivering the best possible value for money. The condition of public sector land and buildings is generally poor and many organisations are breaching statutory health and safety requirements.
These are some of the findings contained in a buildings management briefing published today by the Auditor General. The briefing paper summarises the findings from detailed work reported locally to 30 of the larger Welsh public sector bodies including local government, police, fire and most central government bodies, and drawing also on existing information about buildings management in the NHS.
The briefing paper is designed to sit alongside material on the Wales Audit Office's Good Practice Exchange website. The site contains case studies, good practice principles, self assessment tools, and useful web links. It can be accessed at http://www.wao.gov.uk/goodpractice/goodpracticeexchange.asp
The review found many organisations do not have accurate information, so it is difficult to assess the total value of backlog maintenance*, particularly for local government. But the briefing paper estimates that the total backlog maintenance across Wales is some £2 billion (£1.3 billion in local government, £0.5 billion in the NHS and £0.2 billion in other sectors).
The briefing paper recommends the Assembly Government should consult with public bodies to discover what further guidance, information, support and incentives are needed for a more coordinated approach to the management of land and buildings. It also recommends that public bodies should:
- Ensure land and buildings strategies are up to date and link clearly with corporate and service objectives.
- Involve all stakeholders in the development of land and buildings strategies with ownership of the strategies at the highest level.
- Develop service land and buildings plans which link to the corporate land and buildings strategy.
- Ensure roles and responsibilities for managing land and buildings are clearly defined, understood and communicated.
Auditor General for Wales, Gillian Body, said today:
"Managing the competing strategic and operational demands of land and buildings can be difficult but effective land and buildings management can support better service delivery, improve public and staff safety, reduce operating costs and minimise their environmental impact."
Notes to Editors:
- The Welsh public sector uses land and buildings assets with a value of almost £12 billion (excluding housing). Of this, £8.5 billion is managed by local government, £2.5 billion by the NHS and £0.5 billion by the other sectors (including police, fire and central government). Public bodies spend over £500 million each year running these land and buildings.
- *backlog maintenance is maintenance that is necessary to prevent the deterioration of an asset beyond a given standard and which has not been carried out.
- The Wales Audit Office is committed to improving public services across Wales by helping organisations find good practice and implement it. Because of our unique position in Wales, which involves a relationship with every public body, we can observe good practice in one organisation and identify other organisations where its application might be beneficial.
- The Wales Audit Office is independent of government and is responsible for the annual audit of some £20 billion of annual public expenditure. Its mission is to promote improvement, so that people in Wales benefit from accountable, well-managed public services that offer the best possible value for money. It is also committed to identifying and spreading good practice across the Welsh public sector.