Scottish Civil Estate: efficiency and sustainability report 2019 to 2020

Scottish Ministers are required to lay before the Scottish Parliament this annual report which uses key performance indicators to assess progress in improving the efficiency and sustainability of the Scottish Civil Estate.

3. The Civil Estate from 1 April 2019 - 31 March 2020

Comparisons of this year's key performance indicators (KPIs) with those of previous years are unbalanced by the dynamic nature of the factors involved as staff numbers fluctuate and working practices change. The estate being measured is not static as the organisations which comprise the Scottish Civil Estate change over time and the number of buildings within the estate varies through acquisitions and disposals. Furthermore the areas occupied within the buildings change as the business needs of bodies lead them to expand or contract.

The number of organisations covered by this report changes from time to time as government modernises. During 2010-2011, the period of the first report, there were eleven executive agencies. Between 2010 and 2020, the number dropped to seven executive agencies and has increased this year to ten (listed below), so it should be noted that the comparisons required year on year by statute are not comparing like with like. Forestry and Land Scotland and Scottish Forestry became the newest executive agencies included in this report, forming in April 2019 and bringing six new buildings onto the Civil Estate. Social Security Scotland is also a recently formed Agency in 2018, however, none of their current accommodation is included in this report being outwith the scope described in the statute1.

The Scottish Civil Estate

The civil estate comprises many of the properties that make up the estates of the core Scottish Government and its eight executive agencies. During the period of this report they were:

  • Accountant in Bankruptcy
  • Disclosure Scotland
  • Education Scotland
  • Scottish Prison Service
  • Scottish Public Pensions Agency
  • Student Awards Agency for Scotland
  • Social Security Scotland
  • Transport Scotland

1Buildings that fall within the civil estate are listed at Appendix 2. Note that legislation requires reporting on buildings where Scottish Government wholly control the energy consumption and provision only; multi-occupied properties are excluded.

3.1 Context

The organisations comprising Scottish Government and its executive agencies are complex and multi-faceted with executive, operational and administrative functions.

Supporting the delivery of these functions means the civil estate comprises a diverse collection of assets that range from administrative offices, to highly specialised facilities such as fisheries and agricultural research stations and laboratories.

This report focuses on the administrative part of the civil estate and particularly those offices where the core Scottish Government or its executive agencies are the main occupier and control the buildings, plant and environment. For completeness, the report includes the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the whole estate, comprising both offices and specialist buildings, in a matrix in Appendix 3. The text generally refers to the administrative estate but comments on the whole estate where there are features of particular interest.

3.2 The Scottish Government's Office Component of the Civil Estate

During 2019-20, the office component of the civil estate comprised 36 core administrative buildings with a net internal area (NIA) of 94,564 m2. This represents a net reduction of 9 buildings from the baseline 2010-2011 level. The Scottish Government's core office estate includes both owner-occupied and leasehold properties. The three major administrative buildings in Edinburgh - St Andrew's House, Saughton House and Victoria Quay - are owned (Saughton House is held on a long ground lease) and comprise 60,218.80 m², or around sixty five per cent of the total floor area of the 36 administrative office buildings. To make efficient use of existing contractual space, a significant proportion of this is shared on a co-location basis with other government departments such as the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) and the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS).

The Scottish Government estate is regularly reviewed to ensure it meets the needs of the organisation. A number of buildings have been relinquished by sale or lease termination since the baseline report of 2010-11; these are listed in appendix 2. In addition, several properties have been fully or partially transferred for use by public bodies beyond the Civil Estate and these are also noted in appendix 2.

During 2019-20, with two new executive agencies being formed, six buildings were added to the Estate meaning the overall net internal area of both office and specialist buildings now sits at 141,009.86 m2.

The closure of government offices in late March 2020 as a result of Covid-19 has had only a marginal effect on the KPI's in this report which are measured to 31 March 2020.

3.3 Objectives of Estate Management

A key objective of Scottish Government's property strategy remains the reshaping of the civil estate so that it fulfils modern operational requirements effectively, economically and sustainably.

In 2008, the then Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth, John Swinney, published his Asset Management report. This provided a property management framework which led to the successful completion of a strategy to reduce the size of the Scottish Government core administrative estate (and related costs) by 25% by 31 March 2016.

The Central Estate Strategy published in April 2019 builds on this work and going forward will continue to be developed to reflect Ministers' climate, infrastructure and efficiency targets.

The main aims of the management of the civil estate remain to improve:

  • Efficiency – through using existing space more effectively and simultaneously reducing the size and running costs of the estate. The introduction of modern working practices means that the Scottish Government and its agencies will require less space for particular tasks.
  • Sustainability – by reducing carbon dioxide emissions, water consumption and waste, and improving energy performance and waste recycling, the Scottish Government will continue to improve its environmental performance.

3.4 Performance Measurement

The efficiency and sustainability of the civil estate is assessed using a number of KPIs taken from internal sources which enable measurement and reporting on:

  • the overall area of the civil estate (m²) and the total number of full time equivalent (FTE) staff.
  • workspace efficiency in offices expressed as total estate cost (rent, rates and other costs of occupation) per FTE, and per Area in m2 (Net Internal Area (NIA) per FTE, and the use of occupied space expressed as Area (m2) per workstation.
  • Commitment, wherever possible, to procure buildings in the top quartile of energy performance.
  • Sustainability performance against targets for waste recycling and water consumption.

This report provides both a snapshot of the position as at 31 March 2020, and an indication of some of the changes over the last nine reports which are shown graphically.

3.5 The Organisational Context

As organisations come into and leave the civil estate and the Scottish Government responds to key priorities, statutory powers change and staff numbers vary accordingly. This makes this series of reports difficult to interpret consistently, particularly as the definition of what constitutes a FTE member of staff has also changed in that period within some of the organisations. Broadly speaking, most bodies have been reducing space per FTE over the 10 year period, and as that happens, they rationalise and dispose of space as their leases permit. For some organisations this can cause KPIs relating to space usage to deteriorate for a period as smaller numbers of staff occupy more space than they need until the surplus space can be disposed of at lease end.

Overall the floor area of the estate is significantly lower than at the start of the series, excluding the six properties added this year by formation of new executive agencies.

The merger between Historic Scotland and the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) to form Historic Environment Scotland completed on 1 October 2015. Any statistics relating to Historic Scotland have fallen out of the figures from 2015- 2016.

As noted above, in 2019-20, two new executive agencies, Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) and Scottish Forestry (SF) were established and their additional six properties and 644 staff are included in this report.



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