One Public Estate (OPE) is a national initiative managed by central government to enable public sector organisations to ‘rationalise their asset and estates management’.
In other words, local authorities were able to bid for project funding to facilitate the sharing of buildings and services with other public sector organisations.
Why we need to do this
In 2014, an Audit Commission Report estimated councils spent around 4% of all revenue on premises-related expenditure (running costs, repairing buildings and so on). And the Government is reducing the annual funding it provides to local authorities – by 2020 there will be no money provided to local authorities to support their day-to-day services. Therefore, as part of our County Plan, we are using the One Public Estate programme as one of the ways to save money for Somerset residents by reducing running costs and sharing services. This initiative also gives us the opportunity to generate additional capital receipts (one-off income) by selling off unneeded property.
The One Public Estate (OPE) Programme in Somerset started with £177,500 of funding from the national programme in October 2016 after a successful bid by the Somerset OPE Partnership – made up of all of Somerset’s councils, police, fire and health services. Winning this bid enabled us to look at the feasibility of running projects in Somerset, building on the success of our earlier Customer Access and Shared Assets (CASA) Programme, which aimed to create shared customer access hubs across the county.
The Glastonbury Library Hub opened in July 2016, delivering savings of £30,000 on annual running costs, with feedback showing very high levels of customer satisfaction.
While we are the lead authority for the One Public Estate programme in Somerset, individual projects are defined by the relevant public sector partners, which include
- Avon and Somerset Police
- Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service
- Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)
- Somerset Partnership NHS Trust
- South Western Ambulance Service
- Department for Work and Pensions (Job Centre Plus)
The business planning and project activities completed so far have estimated Somerset will benefit by potential savings of £12.6m on running costs across the partnership organisations, as well as improved access to services for Somerset residents.
One Public Estate projects
The One Public Estate Programme in Somerset is focused on the following towns where projects are either being considered (at feasibility stage) or have their business cases at the review stage.
- Shepton Mallet
At the end of 2017, the One Public Estate Programme was successful in securing future funding to assist the initial high level visioning and planning around the future development of Norton Manor camp following its planned closure in 2028.
As you might imagine, projects that have different partner groups, aims and objectives, and starting points, will have different milestones and timescales. At the feasibility stage, a key element of the decision-making process involves an Impact Assessment completed for every potential option in a project. This ensures any potential project outcomes that might impact the local community (especially anyone protected by equality legislation) are identified and actions put in place to reduce or remove any or all negative impacts.
To find out more about One Public Estate projects local to you, please check out our Your One Public Estate questions answered document, which includes a glossary of all the terminology referred to in the One Public Estate Programme descriptions. Or, look out for updates on our newsroom, or contact any of the One Public Estate Somerset Team directly.
OPE Project and Change Manager
OPE Project and Change Officer