Public land to be sold to balance budget, says Osborne

The Chancellor George Osborne has told government departments that they must identify land for sale as part of the Conservative government’s attempts to save £20bn by 2020.

Despite reducing its estates by 21.5m sq ft over the last five years, vacating 2,000 properties and generating £1.7bn from sales, the government still has over £300bn of land and buildings in the UK.

The Chancellor said: “This Spending review is the next step in our plan to eliminate the deficit, run surplus and ensure Britain lives within its means.”

“We’ll invest in our priorities like the NHS and national security. Elsewhere in government, departments will have to find significant savings through efficiencies and by devolving power, so people have a greater say over the issues that affect them and their communities.”

During his statement the Chancellor also revealed that he has asked Chief Secretary to the Treasury Greg Hands to write to all government departments asking them to outline plans showing how they can cut their budgets by either 25% or 40% by 2020, operating under a less for more policy.

Government departments will also be asked in what ways they can help the government reach its target of building 150,000 homes by 2020, through the disposal of public sector land.

David Orr, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation said: “The government is right to identify public land as a way of driving growth, but it needs to go beyond simply releasing this land and focus on enough homes being built, including affordable housing.”

The official report for the spending review will be published on 25th November.

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