The offices of Treasury civil servants are twice as large as those of private sector workers, leading MPs to criticise the government for wasting £326m a year on accommodation.
A report by the Committee of Public Accounts found almost one-third of the £1bn spent annually on public sector offices could be saved, and that government departments’ office properties were between 14% and 50% less efficient than benchmarks set by the private sector.
The worst performer was the Treasury with an annual average cost per person of £12,041 and allocated space of 232 square feet per person. Regular standards in the private sector are 100 to 120 square feet.
“There is room for improvement, given the poor performance of government buildings compared with the private sector,” said committee chairman Edward Leigh. “The Treasury should be setting an example to the other government departments, not bumping along in bottom place.”
Close to 50,000 government staff remain in London, despite it having the highest accommodation cost in the UK at £47 per square foot, or £9,000 per person per annum. The next highest was Yorkshire and the Humber at just £4,000 per person per annum, while the cheapest was in the North East at a mere £1,371 per person per annum.
The Office of Government Commerce’s High Performance Property programme aims to save £1.5bn a year on property by 2013 through rationalising space. More than 75% of the 20,000 government posts suggested by the 2004 Lyons Review to leave the capital have been relocated.