Jane Hutt, Minister for Finance and Government Business
The purpose of this Statement is to announce formally the publication of the Welsh Government’s sixth annual ‘State of the Estate’ report.
The report highlights that the Welsh Government is continuing to operate against the backdrop of reducing budget settlements as a result of the UK Government Spending Reviews. This is a point I emphasised recently with the publication of our ‘Priorities for Wales’ Draft Budget for 2015/16. In this context, I am pleased that the effective and proactive management of our administrative estate is continuing to realise year-on-year improvements in terms of cost, efficiency and environmental performance.
The State of the Estate report provides an important snapshot of the performance data we use to monitor the efficiency and effectiveness of the buildings we occupy. It measures our performance over time and provides and offers a comparison with similar organisations. The report also sets the background against which the estate is being managed with regard to the targets set out in the Location Strategy Programme 2010-15.
As we enter the final year of our current Location Strategy Programme, the report confirms we are on track to exceed our original targets with substantial efficiency savings. By April 2015 we anticipate realising gross savings of £19.3 million over the five year term of the strategy, together with recurrent annual building cost savings of £6.7 million, compared to the 2010 baseline.
We also continue to work towards the Welsh Government’s Climate Change targets and in 2013/14 a substantial 11.3% reduction in CO2 emissions from the administrative estate was achieved. Indeed we have reduced our carbon emissions by 27% in the three years since 2010/11. Sustainable building practices and operational processes remain a key priority. Over the next 12 months we will focus on further improving the performance of our buildings whilst reducing our impact on the environment. Based on our current projections we expect to achieve a 30% reduction in carbon emissions for the administrative estate (against a 2011 baseline) by the end of March 2015. This is a significant contribution to the delivery of our Climate Change objectives and demonstrates the Welsh Government’s committed leadership in this field. Notwithstanding this achievement, we intend to maintain this momentum with our carbon management activities and continue to work to deliver reductions for the administrative estate through to 2020 and beyond.
Since the establishment of the original 2003 Location Strategy Programme, the Welsh Government has achieved its overriding objective to decentralise services from Cardiff and bring them closer to the people of Wales. This achievement is acknowledged within the Wales Audit Office review into ‘The Welsh Government’s Location Strategy’, which was published in March 2014.
Looking ahead, the Welsh Government will continue to manage the estate within substantially reduced budgets. With the existing strategy drawing to a close, we are developing the next phase of the Location Strategy, which will set out our plan and vision for the way the Welsh Government manages and uses its property portfolio beyond 2015, covering the five year period up to 2020. The challenges for the Strategy will be to provide the right property infrastructure that helps us deliver efficiencies now and in the future, whilst ensuring government business and the delivery of services to the people of Wales is sustainable.
Our aims will be to continue to provide a dispersed estate in the right locations to support government business, maximising savings through continued estate rationalisation where considered appropriate, together with the transformation and modernisation of our workplaces. These aims align with our corporate vision of not only making the best use of Welsh Government resources, but also ensuring that our buildings are safe, managed sustainably and efficiently, as well as being fit for purpose.