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Departments to outline land sell off plans

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Government departments will submit details by the autumn of how they will dispose of public sector to allow for the building of 150,000 new homes by 2020.

The call for the release of land comes as the Treasury yesterday began the process of finding £20billion of public sector savings over the next four years.

According to the AJ’s sister title Construction News, details of the spending review will be revealed by chancellor George Osborne on 25 November.

In advance, Whitehall departments will be asked to outline plans on how they can trim their spending by 25 per cent and 40 per cent from resource budgets by 2019-20, as well as their land sale proposals.

A Treasury paper detailing the spending review timeline, published yesterday, said: ‘The government has taken strides to reduce the size of its estate, getting out of expensive buildings that it no longer needs, and releasing surplus public sector land.

‘This is vital to reducing running costs, promoting economic growth, and meeting the government’s housing ambitions.’

According to the Treasury, the government sold land with a capacity for 100,000 homes over the course of the last parliament. However, land and buildings worth more than £300billion are still publically owned.

In the paper - titled A country that lives within its means – the Treasury reaffirmed the government’s commitment to ‘protect per-pupil funding for schools’ and said it would continue to modernise courts and prison infrastructure.

It also restated its plan to devolve powers to the English regions  and said the spending review would ‘establish how spending can be used to rebalance the economy, including by building a Northern Powerhouse’.

Speaking about the proposed cuts a RIBA spokesperson said: ‘It is vital the efficiency drive does not impact on the ability of local authorities to deliver high quality planning services. We look forward to seeing the detail of the Government’s Spending Review in November.’

Noble Francis, economics director of the Construction Products Association, told the AJ: ‘Although the extent of spending cuts will be harsh, they will focus on current rather than capital spending.’
‘During the first three years of the coalition, capital spending was cut and GDP suffered  so they pushed up spending on roads and schools – they have learnt their lesson from that.’

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