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to endure an even rougher ride than the health service. Education sees a ‘real terms’ increase of £4bn by 2014/15, from £35bn to £39bn. The detail remains unclear but with the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme effectively scrapped, the focus again falls on delivering improved efficiencies – more for less – and this means more refurbishment, fewer new schools and academies (although some will still go ahead) and better use and operation of education estates.


The provision of affordable housing was another political hot potato following the CSR. The NAHP (National Affordable Housing Programme) sees funding cut by nearly half, to £4.4bn and, once more, the Government is targeting improved efficiency and increased flexibility from the sector.


Many of the deepest cuts were, as expected, saved for local government although budget reductions of more than 25% and a freeze on council tax rises were foreseen by few. Savings resulting from to the abolition of funding to Regional Development Agencies help but are small fry by comparison. The targeted is for a 7.1% reduction in funding per year, for four years. Factoring in increased council responsibilities and the council tax freeze, as well as population growth


forecasts and inflation, the challenge facing local government to deliver more for less is perhaps the greatest faced by any in the public sector.


This may not necessarily mean doom and gloom for the estates and facilities management industry. Property accounts for around a fifth of all local government expenditure and there is a real opportunity to improve operational efficiencies of existing assets. Much of this estate currently operates comparatively inefficiently so, in this regard at least, it represents some scarce but welcome low-hanging fruit. To get the most value from assets and the teams that manage them, there will need to be improved co-operation between neighbouring estates and authorities in both practice and procurement.


It will be of little consolation that central government is facing comparable, if not worse, cuts in spending. The proposed 34% cut in administration budgets across Whitehall will deliver savings of £5.9bn a year by 2014-15. Identifying and generating savings from property and facilities management will be a priority with some departments now sharing premises as part of The Cabinet Office moves in with the Treasury.


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