Empty Whitehall offices cost tax payers hundreds of thousands

BBC reports on government properties which have been empty for over a decade

Article posted: 13 Jan 2012

According to a report by the BBC yesterday, there are government buildings which have been empty, some for over a decade, which is costing the taxpayer tens of thousands of pounds.


Within the governments property portfolio of around 14,000 buildings, two major offices in Westminster, once belonging to the Department of Transport have been unused since the turn of the century and another government building providing office space in Birmingham has been empty since 2005 at a cost of £180,000.


Ministers are said to be “getting a grip” on the situation with over 800 properties having been sold off already since the Conservatives came in to office and over £100m raised this financial year so far by disposing of disused properties and regearing leases. In September a review of the government portfolio revealed that around 2.4% of the government’s total office space in the UK was vacant.


One property providing office space in Alyesbury, Buckinghamshire together with an acre of land belonging to the Cabinet Office has been unoccupied for almost a decade but the lease has 25 years still to


And offices in Greenwich belonging to the Ministry of Justice has been vacant since 2004 at a total cost of £56,000  to the tax payer in addition to the cost of business rates and other miscellaneous charges.


Commenting on the situation, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said: "Government will always need property but it can only be right that the public can see what property is held and how efficiently it is being used."


Campaigns Director Emma Boon at the campaign group the Taxpayer's Alliance told the BBC: “It is outrageous that taxpayers are paying for hundreds of thousands of square metres of office space to stand empty for years on end. Office space in London and big cities comes at a premium price. Careful planning could significantly reduce outgoings on things like rent and maintenance, saving the public purse millions."


With office space in Central London at such a premium it makes sense to relocate some government departments out of the capital, but while consolidation of office space in Westminster is happening in some areas there is still much to be done.


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Posted by Julie

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