The condition of the public estate in the era of austerity


By David Brindley, Director, CIPFA Property

Change across the public services and property is unrelenting. One Public Estate, community asset transfer, localism, the transparency agenda, academies, free schools, budget cuts and the effects of austerity means the sector is in a state of constant flux.

Many organisations have rationalised their estate, improved buildings and made significant savings. However, there is still a liability for backlog maintenance as these properties deteriorate over time.

Diminishing property departments and property maintenance budgets have resulted in fire fighting for repairs and maintenance. 

Planned maintenance of these properties is decreasing or none existent. Very few authorities have been able to either carry out or commission property condition surveys to determine the future liabilities of the property stock and indeed the statutory obligations around compliance with Health and Safety.

The recommended interval for condition surveys is every 5 years. Good accurate data should be collected for the first two to three years but after that the information is just an estimate. With budgets not even covering basic repairs such as leaking rainwater goods some properties will deteriorate more rapidly and as a result the cost of maintenance will escalate.

Having good up-to-date information enables managers to properly plan and prioritise where scarce resources can be allocated to maximise the value for money from a limited budget.  

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CIPFA Property supports public bodies in the management of their assets. Find out more about CIPFA Property.