Communities and Local Government Secretary, Eric Pickles, has announced that councils and other public bodies should publish asset lists that will help to identify billions of pounds of potential savings and protect frontline services.
A 'demo' map has been published that locates over 180,000 assets owned by almost 600 public sector bodies, including Central Government and 87 councils. It reveals widespread public property ownership, beyond frontline services, underlining the scope for savings and the potential of a national asset map.
Public sector assets are worth an estimated £385bn, with almost two thirds owned by councils. The Government has committed to work with areas seeking to make savings through better property management. The Government estimates this could potentially save £35 billion over 10 years.
Mr Pickles wants public sector organisations, including councils, to publish registers of all buildings and land owned. Local people could use the lists alongside the Localism Bill's new community rights, to protect local treasures.
Mr Pickles believes the public have a right to see the sheer scale and variety of public sector asset wealth, which in some cases include pubs, farms and even sports clubs.
Results from eleven council led pilot projects, known as capital and assets pathfinders, found that on average twenty per cent savings could be made by rationalising public assets or co-locating local services based on customer needs.
A recent independent report also found that local government and the public sector could save up to £7bn a year in operational costs through better property management. Annual running costs top £25bn and the backlog of maintenance repairs has been estimated to be around £40bn.
Eric 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.
"This asset information also holds huge potential for local communities, offering an at a glance way to find that new meeting place or rescue the derelict tennis court round the corner."