Jane Hutt, Minister for Finance and Leader of the House
The purpose of this Statement is to formally announce the publication of the Welsh Government’s fifth annual ‘State of the Estate’ report.
The State of the Estate report is not an asset management plan, its aim is to provide a snapshot of our property performance during the last financial year. It is a document that reports on the efficiency and environmental performance of the Welsh Government’s administrative estate. It focuses on the achievements of 2012/13, charts progress and considers those improvements still to be made. The report also sets the background against which the estate is currently being managed with regard to the targets set out in the Location Strategy Programme 2010-15.
This year has been particularly significant in terms of our property assets, with the National Assembly for Wales Finance Committee Asset Management Inquiry which reported in August 2013. This report underlines the very clear messages around financial pressures and that with reduced budgets, it is imperative that public sector leaders realise maximum efficiency from every single part of the organisation.
We are committed to making the most effective and efficient use of the resources at our disposal during these tough times to deliver the outcomes we want for the people of Wales.
Effective management of our property assets has been critical during this difficult and challenging economic period. We continue to work hard to better align our office estate to the business and we have pushed hard for efficiency savings – investing where appropriate, rationalising where necessary and optimising savings through better utilisation.
All of these objectives are captured within the latest report where the overall performance can be described as positive, with improvements being reported against the majority of the key performance indicators.
In respect of the current Location Strategy, the aim remains to provide a sustainable property infrastructure with a priority to ensure compliance, accessibility and efficiency – within a very tight financial environment. I believe that this is clearly reflected in the estates activity undertaken during 2012/13. The six office closures in this reporting period were carefully planned to ensure business continuity and achieve overall savings. Making the most of existing buildings and our flexible working practices helps underpin how we operate our estate to best support the delivery of Government business. Spending on office improvements has been made only where it can release longer term financial savings.
The continuing strategic focus during 2013/14 will remain on maximising the use and efficiency of building stock in line with the Location Strategy programme and our Carbon Management Strategy. Effective benchmarking will continue to enable us to focus investment in the right areas allowing us to provide safe, modern, carbon-friendly, efficient and compliant working environments for our staff and better facilities for the public served.
On-going pressure on budgets means there can be no let up in the continuing work to better align the asset base to support Government business and push hard for efficiency savings.