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Council saves more than £5 million through property portfolio

18 May 2016

More than £5 million has been saved with a further £2 million saved in the future following changes to Essex County Council’s property portfolio.


The property ‘transformation’ project running since 2013 has also led to more than £52 million in capital received through leasing or selling properties.


Launched as part of the council’s drive to tackle the financial challenge it faces, the project has seen an overhaul of the council’s portfolio looking at where buildings could be better used, vacated, leased out or sold for development.


This has led to 32 operational or office buildings being vacated.
Cllr David Finch, Leader of Essex County Council, said: “We face having to save more than £1 million every week for the next four years and this means looking at every aspect of the business, and assessing how it is working and whether it is delivering best value.


“Over the past few years we have also seen major changes to how residents engage with the council. People are increasingly looking to deal with us digitally or indeed through self-service.


“And we are also looking at a more flexible workforce. We employ more than 7,000 employees dealing with hundreds of services, but we need this to be flexible and adaptable, being attached to a desk in a particular building isn’t always the best way of working.


“This means looking at how our property portfolio delivers for taxpayers and there is a careful balance in terms of selling properties, which of course you can do only once, and looking to lease them out.”


And in the coming months the project will be extended following the Council’s Cabinet approval of £967,000 to be spent on property improvements.


This will see additional mobile and flexible working facilities installed in Essex House in Colchester, Magnet House in Clacton and Goodman House in Harlow, more LED lighting installed in all offices and improvements to be made to Watergardens in Harlow and Duke Street offices in Chelmsford.


Councillor Finch added: “Despite the financial restraints we are committed to investing as we know that making the right investment will ultimately deliver more savings and more revenue for the council.


“The extension to this project will deliver £30 million of capital by the end of March 2018 and £2.2 million revenue benefit by the end of March 2019, which will be money ploughed back into essential services.”