Jane Hutt AM, Minister for Finance and Government Business
I have today published the Welsh Governments first Corporate Asset Management Strategy (CAMS) 2016 to 2021. Given the close synergy of their work, I am also publishing the 2015-16 Annual Report of the National Assets Working Group (NAWG).
The public sector in Wales holds significant property assets which make a central contribution to the delivery of public services. With the continued austerity measures imposed upon this government, there is an onus on us to manage assets efficiently, cost effectively and to have in place the correct asset portfolio to support our policy objectives and deliver the services for which we are responsible, whilst also maximising the benefits of those assets.
Our Corporate Asset Management Strategy sets out a new robust 5 year approach to better realise the potential of the government’s property assets and their utilisation alongside financial resources in the delivery of policy objectives. Crucially, the strategy draws on best practice establishing 4 high level guiding principles which will apply across government to ensure we develop and maintain a unified, informed and expedient approach to the utilisation and management of our assets.
Importantly this new corporate approach will not only create a step change in this government's approach to asset utilisation and management, but it also delivers against the accepted recommendations of the 2013 Finance Committee Asset Review. It promotes collaboration and visibility of resources as well as embedding a culture of scrutiny that will challenge the use, effectiveness, and retention of our land and property assets. In turn this will enable ministers to make more informed choices in the utilisation of asset holdings and acquisitions to deliver government priorities.
Over the longer term my officials will be looking at the potential benefits of applying the principles of this approach to the wider circa £12bn Welsh Public sector estate via the work of the National Assets Working Group (NAWG).
Established in 2010, the NAWG comprises senior representation from public sector bodies in Wales, bringing together strategic leadership with the aim of enabling and influencing a collaborative approach to asset management and so release maximum value from our public sector assets. The role of the group has never been more important given the current difficult financial climate. Using existing public sector assets more effectively is critical to facilitate the delivery of services in a more effective, efficient and joined up way.
The Annual Report outlines the work of the NAWG during the period 1 April 2015 – 31 March 2016 and within the context of improving efficiency through collaborative effort; the group have produced and supported the development of a number of key tools to help deliver improved effectiveness. The significant achievements during the year included:
- The development of a set of property indicators for office space, which addresses directly one of the accepted Finance Committee recommendations. This will allow for an effective and transparent means of benchmarking the performance for Welsh public sector office properties
- Redevelopment and launch of the Assets Cymru website as an open access web resource. The new presence is designed to provide information on all aspects of good practice asset management and will include the CAMS
- Revision of the ‘Community Asset Transfers in Wales: a Best Practice Guide’ to include feedback and contributions from stakeholders working directly with recipients of community asset transfers, as well as those in receipt of public sector assets via such a transfer.
The new Corporate Asset Management Strategy will provide a strong framework to develop a more robust integrated approach to asset management across the Welsh Government and ensure that the value and importance of our property assets are clearly recognized.