New funds for property and land rationalisation programme raise prospect of investment in technology
The Government has released a further £8.7 million to support the One Public Estate programme, opening up the prospect of a fresh injection of spending on digital technology at local level.
The Cabinet Office, which runs the scheme in partnership with the Local Government Authority (LGA), said the money will be divided among 56 council-led partnerships to help them use publicly owned land and building more efficiently.
It is the latest round of funding in a programme that was launched in 2013 and is expected to deliver £615 million in capital receipts and £158 million in running costs savings, and create 44,000 new jobs by 2020.
Initiatives highlighted by the LGA focus on bringing public sector organisations together at local level. Its examples include the creation of community health hubs in Leeds and the combination of youth employment services by Nottingham City Council and the Department for Work and Pensions.
While the announcement and funding allocations make no specific reference to technology, a relevant investment is often needed to facilitate the partnerships between the different bodies.
The largest beneficiary of the new funding is the Transforming Bedfordshire partnership, led by Bedford Borough Council, with £490,000. It is followed by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority with £386,000 and the West Midlands Combined Authority, for a project led by Sandwell Borough Council, with £290,000.
The Cabinet Office said that 90% of councils are now taking part in the programme.
Minister for Government Resilience and Efficiency Caroline Nokes said: “When I launched this application round in August I hoped that new funding and the obvious benefits of the programme would grab the attention of councils and boost the numbers getting involved.
“I’m delighted to see that we now have over 90% of councils on board, up from around three quarters previously. People in many more communities will feel the benefits of new housing, better public services and efficiencies as a result.”
The announcement came, however, on the day that the LGA warned that councils will suffer a 54% cut in their funding from central government over the next two financial years. It said that almost half of councils would receive nothing by 2019-20 and that many are approaching a “cliff edge” in the provision of vital services.
Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0