Poor management of the Government’s £1bn-plus property portfolio is wasting taxpayers’ money and could also lead to the loss of “culturally significant” buildings, a new report has concluded.
Following a review lasting more than a year, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) – the panel of politicians responsible for assessing how well Government is handling public money – concluded that processes urgently needed updating.
The review involved receiving written and oral submissions from members of the public, as well as local organisations, and senior Government officials from Jersey Property Holdings and the IHE Department.
PAC found that there was a lack of clarity over which Government departments and individuals were responsible for certain property decisions.
It also found that some prominent and culturally significant properties in the public estate have been lying empty and deteriorating for many years whilst arguments continue about their future use, while buildings with “limited financial or social value” are being repaired annually at “huge cost”.
Pictured: Piquet House, one of the more contentious properties in the Government's portfolio.
Property management and repairs, the review found, are being conducted on an “ad hoc” basis, and few proactive efforts are made.
Accessibility, meanwhile, did not appear to have been factored into management plans, with the PAC finding “no evidence” that Government was working on ensuring its buildings comply with relevant disability legislation.
PAC Chair Deputy Inna Gardiner said: “From this review, we have to conclude that the Government is not managing its substantial property portfolio in an efficient way to maximise its effectiveness and value for money for the taxpayer.
“We call on the Government to urgently improve its governance processes and to clarify the roles of the different departments and bodies involved in property management. This will ensure that the Government is able to make objective evidence-based decisions which provide the public with well-managed, high-quality, accessible buildings.
“Every department should not need to have their own property experts to bid for property: the portfolio should be managed in an equitable and logical way, across Government. The rationalisation process should be robust and objective using industry recognised prioritisation tools and techniques and communicated to all stakeholders."
Pictured: PAC Chair Deputy Inna Gardiner said the Government should act "without further delay".
She continued: “The Government must act without further delay to restore and maintain public trust and confidence in its ability to manage the Public Estate. Accepting and fully implementing the recommendations from this report in a timely fashion will go a long way towards that aim.”
Comments on this story express the views of the commentator only, not Bailiwick Publishing. We are unable to guarantee the accuracy of any of those comments.
Once your comment has been submitted, it won’t appear immediately. There is no need to submit it more than once. Comments are published at the discretion of Bailiwick Publishing, and will include your username.