23rd PAC Report 2006-07
The office accommodation of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and its sponsored bodies
Edward Leigh MP, Chairman of the Committee of Public Accounts, today said:
“Government departments and agencies can get better value for money for the taxpayer by managing their office space effectively. This message should be displayed in bright lights in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, a department which is remarkably casual in its approach to the management of office accommodation. The department and the 24 organisations covered by our report are all making their own decisions, however costly and inefficient the consequences.
“The annual cost of accommodating each official ranges from £1,000 to £30,000. Too many are housed for no clear reason at upmarket addresses in London - an extreme example being the six members of the Football Licensing Authority ensconced at great expense in Cavendish Square in the West End. Nearly half of the offices enjoy remarkably generous amounts of space. And different DCMS organisations around the country are coy about sharing offices and support services.
“The DCMS must now stand up and exercise leadership. It must set standards for office accommodation, benchmark accommodation costs and use between organisations, challenge assumptions about the need to occupy prestigious offices, and hold organisations to account.”
Mr Leigh was speaking as the Committee published its 23rd Report of this Session which examined the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on the location, cost efficiency and the use of space at its offices and those occupied by the sponsored bodies for which it is responsible.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport and 24 of its sponsored bodies occupy 95 offices around England, housing 5,000 staff at a cost of over £40 million a year. The 25 organisations do not include the national museums or galleries as their accommodation expenditure is dominated by the requirements of public access, display and storage rather than office space.
The majority of the sector’s office space is in London, where costs are highest. The extra estimated cost for accommodating each person in London, compared to outside London, is at least £3,000 a year. However, many of the organisations have UK wide responsibilities and the Department is planning on the basis that organisations will move out of London and the South East when their current leases expire, unless they can establish a clear business case for not doing so.
The Department has now identified 950 jobs to move out of London and the South East, against their target of 600 when the Lyons Review was published in 2004.
Cost efficiency and space utilisation
There are wide variations between the regions in the costs of office accommodation. In London the average cost per person is £10,000, compared to less than £4,500 in Yorkshire and the Humber. The cost for each person is driven by the costs of the space itself and by the amount of space provided for each person, but very few organisations use these key performance indicators or have targets for them.
The Department has an overall target for efficiency savings to be realised from the sector as a whole, but does not have a specific target for the savings to be achieved from the office estate. The Department relies on the individual organisations that it sponsors to make their own management decisions about how best to manage their accommodation efficiently and secure savings.
Nearly half of the offices in the sector exceed recommended good practice for the amount of space per person and the space per person tends to be most generous in offices outside London, where rent is lower. Several organisations have offices in each of the English regions, very often occupying separate offices in the same towns.
Notes for Editors
1. Contact details for requests for further comment from Mr Edward Leigh are provided below. ISDN facilities are available for broadcasting purposes.
2. The full text of the Committee’s Conclusions and Recommendations is attached to this press notice.
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