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Ministerial Correction

Monday 21 November 2011

Communities and Local Government

Local Government Finance

The following are answers given by the Minister for Housing and Local Government, the right hon. Member for Welwyn Hatfield (Grant Shapps), to questions from the hon. Member for West Suffolk (Matthew Hancock) during Communities and Local Government Question Time on 31 October 2011.

9. Matthew Hancock (West Suffolk) (Con): What steps he is taking to help local authorities reduce the cost of their property. [77102]

The Minister for Housing and Local Government (Grant Shapps): First, let me pay tribute to my hon. Friend for his great work in the Westminster Sustainable Business Forum. Public sector assets are worth about £385 billion, almost two thirds of which are owned by councils.

Matthew Hancock: I am grateful for the Minister’s reply. Is he looking forward to sending his boss along to next week’s launch of the second leg of the review of how much can be saved by reforming the way property

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is used by local public sector agencies and local authorities, which will highlight that this is about not just bricks and mortar but increasing productivity and spending money more wisely?

Grant Shapps: I have no doubt that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will enjoy that visit enormously, especially if good food is on offer. My hon. Friend is on to something here: public sector assets are worth £385 billion, and two thirds of them are council-owned. If a saving of just 20% in running costs were made, that could save about £35 billion a year in receipts over 10 years. There is an enormous amount of money to be saved, therefore, and I commend the work that has been done.

[Official Report, 31 October 2011, Vol. 534, c. 590-91.]

Letter of correction from Grant Shapps:

An error has been identified in the oral answer given to a supplementary question on 31 October 2011. The error related to the figures on savings. The correct answer should have been:

Grant Shapps: I have no doubt that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will enjoy that visit enormously, especially if good food is on offer. My hon. Friend is on to something here: public sector assets are worth £385 billion, and two thirds of them are council-owned. Better management of public sector assets could potentially save 20% in running costs and £35 billion in capital receipts over 10 years. There is an enormous amount of money to be saved, therefore, and I commend the work that has been done.