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Local Government Finance

Oral Answers to Questions — Communities and Local Government – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 31st October 2011.

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Photo of Matthew Hancock Matthew Hancock Conservative, West Suffolk 2:30 pm, 31st October 2011

What steps he is taking to help local authorities reduce the cost of their property.

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Minister for Housing

First, let me pay tribute to my hon. Friend for his great work in the Westminster Sustainable Business Forum. Public sector assets are worth about £385 billion, almost two thirds of which are owned by councils.

Photo of Matthew Hancock Matthew Hancock Conservative, West Suffolk

I am grateful for the Minister’s reply. Is he looking forward to sending his boss along to next week’s launch of the second leg of the review of how much can be saved by reforming the way property is used by local public sector agencies and local authorities, which will highlight that this is about not just bricks and mortar but increasing productivity and spending money more wisely?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Minister for Housing

I have no doubt that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will enjoy that visit enormously, especially if good food is on offer. My hon. Friend is on to something here: public sector assets are worth £385 billion, and two thirds of them are council-owned. If a saving of just 20% in running costs were made, that could save about £35 billion a year in receipts over 10 years. There is an enormous amount of money to be saved, therefore, and I commend the work that has been done.

[This section has been corrected on 21 November 2011, column 2MC — read correction]