5 Aug 2011

Councils urged to sell off billions of pounds of assets

Local councils are being urged by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles “to take a good hard look at what they own” in order to save taxpayers’ money and improve local services.

Eric Pickles - Getty

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has published a list of assets owned by 600 councils and public sector bodies, which includes football clubs, hotels, theatres, shops and restaurants.

Mr Pickles said most taxpayers were not aware of the “sheer scale and scope” of the number of assets owned by the public sector.

Land and property owned by the public sector are worth an estimated £385bn, with almost two-thirds owned by councils, according to the DCLG.

Ministers believe that around £35bn could be saved over 10 years through “better property management”.

Mr Pickles said: “We need to know, now more than ever, exactly what assets are publicly owned.

“The general public probably have no idea of the sheer scale and scope of property and land on the public sector’s books. In many cases it goes way beyond traditional frontline services.

“I want the public sector to take a good hard look at what they own. By cataloguing each and every asset, councils can help Government find innovative new ways to utilise them, improve local services, keep council running costs down and save taxpayers’ money.”