Location of public service delivery organisations in the context of better asset management
This document sets out the key principles and arrangements intended to form the basis of the Scottish Government's approach to location policy. Further work is required to define the detailed processes that will support the policy and this will be taken forward in the coming months, based on the approach set out within this document.
These principles and arrangements apply to the core Scottish Government ("SG Main"), its Agencies and NDPBs and those parts of the Health Service with national remit requiring office-based HQ accommodation, including the HQ of NHS National Services Scotland, NHS Quality Improvement Scotland, NHS Health Scotland, NHS Education Scotland and NHS 24.
The relocation policy will be taken forward within the context of the Government's Purpose and the five strategic objectives and will seek to deliver better use of the Government estate while ensuring that organisations are suitably accommodated and ensure that due account is given to the relevant environmental considerations of the Greener Scotland programme
- Achieving efficiency and best practice asset management. There will be a presumption in favour of the choice representing best value for money for the Scottish Government as a whole, providing that this meets the requirements of the organisation, unless clear reasons for an alternative are agreed and articulated by Ministers.
- In pursuing value for money on accommodation decisions we will continue to pursue our policy of no compulsory redundancies
- Major estate management decisions and all proposed changes of location will be overseen by Scottish Ministers; decisions relating to the existing estate will be taken by Facilities and Estates Directorate, following completion of the process detailed below except where other arrangements have been explicitly agreed and are consistent with the overall approach (e.g. Scottish Environment and Rural Services initiative (SEARS)).
- The Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth will approve all new commitments (leases and acquisitions) confirm location decisions, and arbitrate in any disputes relating to the existing estate
- Location and asset management decisions will be transparent (with the exception of commercially sensitive data) and made public, and staff and unions will continue to be consulted where appropriate, in line with the terms of the Partnership Agreements with the Scottish Trade Unions
- The recommendations of the Asset Management review, notably regarding the disposal of surplus and vacant assets and the development of standard procedures to apply to any potential change of location, are endorsed and will apply. Further work to develop these will be taken forward
- Organisations will be asked to review their asset management strategies on amalgamating or substantial restructuring, at the PFMR or successor mechanism and/or 2 years in advance of a lease or property break; the outputs of these reviews which will be managed flexibly in terms of process but will be subject to challenge, will form the basis of the consideration of whether any change of accommodation and/or location should be sought or other opportunities to realise efficiencies to be pursued
- Facilities and Estates Directorate will work with organisations to identify suitable accommodation solutions in line with the principles outlined above; there will be no presumptions in advance of the review
- The process will ensure that organisations will be found accommodation that is suitable for their needs and represents good value for money; priority will be given to reuse of existing Government estate where suitable and to developing opportunities for sharing of services including via creative use of emerging technologies; opportunities to improve environmental performance and energy saving will form part of this consideration
- Formal appraisal of any options considered for new commitments will be carried out in line with Green Book guidance and published on the Scottish Government website following a decision
- Organisations/units will be considered for relocation only if deemed suitable and if Ministers have indicated they wish to pursue the option of relocation
- Organisations will be deemed suitable for relocation only, when, following review of requirements, it is deemed that:
- Relocation is likely to bring about efficiencies and/or benefits for the wider Scottish Government
- Ministers have powers to determine the location of the body
- Relocation would not lead to compulsory redundancies
- It is considered that the organisation should be able to operate effectively from another location (some restrictions may apply)
- Relocation costs can be afforded.
- It will be for Ministers* to determine the new location of the body, following an open and transparent process including involvement of management and union representation from the organisation and assessment of operating requirements
- suitability of the location for the organisation's identified needs including business continuity, potential for recruitment/match with local employment trends, skill-sets and available local housing
- availability of suitable property or site at reasonable cost and available within reasonable timescale (in some cases this may imply that an organisation will require to inhabit interim accommodation in the location)
- potential to achieve efficiencies and achieve value for money
- Consideration will also be given to:
- opportunity afforded to contribute to demonstrably/stimulate local regeneration/economic growth
- potential to contribute to the development of a local centre of excellence
- opportunity to achieve a potential reduction in carbon emissions and to contribute to the Greener Scotland programme
- other factors relevant to the specific relocation as announced by Ministers at the outset of the location search: these factors may include geographical parameters for the location search
- In the case of Small Unit relocations, particular weight will be given to communities deemed remote, rural or fragile and to fit with other rural initiatives
- We will build in a plan to evaluate each relocation to enable us to assess whether the intended outcomes have been achieved
*The Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth, in conjunction with the Ministers with policy responsibility for the relevant organisation will determine the location of the body.