Scottish Civil Estate: efficiency and sustainability report 2020 to 2021

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 2020 - 31 March 2021

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. Social Security Scotland was recently formed as an Executive Agency in 2018 and this is the first reporting period in which one of their buildings has been included. Scottish Forestry were unable to submit full data this year due to the requirement for staff to work from home as a result of Covid, leaving them unable to access the necessary data.

The civil estate comprises many of the properties that make up the estates of the core Scottish Government and its ten executive agencies. Buildings 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.

Under the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009, Scottish Ministers must report on any building acquired which does not fall in to the top quartile (an A to C rating) on the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).

220 High Street, Glasgow is currently rated D for energy performance. Social Security Scotland are new occupiers in the building and are carrying out energy performanc e improvements such as installing low energy lighting throughout the building. These measures should lead to an improved score on the EPC over time.

The Scottish Civil Estate

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

  • Accountant in Bankruptcy
  • Disclosure Scotland
  • Education Scotland
  • Forestry and Land Scotland
  • Scottish Forestry
  • 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 2020-21, the office component of the civil estate comprised 29 administrative buildings with a net internal area (NIA) of 91,284.43m2. 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 60,218.80m², or around 66% of the total floor area of the 29 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).

This report includes a number of specialist buildings including the freshwater fish laboratory at Faskally. The overall net internal area of both office and specialist buildings is 138,161.22 m2.

The closure of government offices in late March 2020 as a result of Covid-19 has resulted in staff not working in the office for the full reporting period. However, for the purposes of this report, the figure used for full time equivalent (FTE) staff in each building is the number of FTE staff who would be occupying the building in a normal reporting year. This is to maintain the integrity of figures based on headcount.

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 and evolving work practices across society will inform future estate planning post Covid-19.

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 to meet Scottish Ministers' net-zero targets 1. Additional guidance extending and refreshing Scottish Government's core estate strategy is in development.

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 which allows calculation of space, cost and energy usage per FTE
  • workspace efficiency in offices expressed as total estate cost (rent, rates and other costs of occupation) per FTE, rent per m2 of Net Internal Area (NIA), and the use of occupied space expressed as NIA (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.2

This report provides both a snapshot of the position as at 31 March 2021, 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, 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 lower than at the start of the series. Social Security Scotland come into the report for the first time this year, adding one additional property.

1 Link to Scottish Government Climate Change targets.

2 Link to 'Scotland and the sustainable development goals…'



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