Blunkett may sell Job Centres estate to private contractor

DAVID BLUNKETT'S Department for Education and Employment is considering selling off its entire property estate, including the country's 390 JobCentres, to private sector contractors.

The DfEE is understood to have put out feelers to potential bidders following similar moves by the Department of Social Security and the Inland Revenue and Customs & Excise.

In addition to the nationwide network of JobCentres, the department's estate includes headquarters buildings in London and properties occupied by the school inspection unit Ofsted, the Equal Opportunities Commission and a range of other bodies from the Further Education Funding Council to the Government's Student Loans Company. The DSS's estate, compromising 800 buildings covering 1.6 million square metres, was sold to Trillium, a consortium led by the US investment bank Goldman Sachs, for pounds 250m in April 1998.

Trillium has a 20-year contract worth pounds 2bn with the DSS to provide accommodation and services ranging from maintenance and security to cleaning and catering.

In a report last April, the National Audit Office estimated that the contract could produce savings for the taxpayer of pounds 560m over its 20-year life.

The success of the DSS deal has encouraged other government departments to look at handing over their estates to the private sector.

The sale of the Inland Revenue and Customs & Excise estate - the second biggest after the DSS's with 1.5 million square metres of space - is due to be completed by the spring of 2001.

A shortlist of three bidders has been drawn up and asked to submit bids by next April. The list consists of Trillium, the Japanese investment bank Nomura and a real estate fund run by George Soros.

The sale will raise about pounds 220m but there are likely to be substantial savings for the taxpayer above and beyond that as part of the long-term letting contract agreed with the successful bidder.

As a result of the DSS deal, Trillium has become the UK's largest commercial landlord. The DSS estate is bigger than the Canary Wharf complex.

Under the contract, Trillium has assumed all the liabilities attached to the estate, including rental obligations and is also liable to pay penalties on up to 60 per cent of its income in the event of poor performance. In the first year of the contract it paid pounds 760,000 in penalties, although the figure will be higher this year.

Trillium is seeking to negotiate a modified incentive regime with the DSS so that as well as being penalised for poor levels of service it can be also be rewarded for outperformance.

It is not clear at this stage whether the DfEE will chose to sell its entire estate or whether any deal would involve the same level of risk transfer as the DSS contract.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Digital Optimisation Executive - Marketing

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's fastest growing, multi...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Reporting Manager

£70000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Financial Reporting Manager i...

Recruitment Genius: Payments Operations Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...

Recruitment Genius: Telephone Debt Negotiator

£13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...

Day In a Page

Syria civil war: Meet the military commander who says his soldiers will not rest until every inch of their war torn country is free of Islamist 'terrorists'

‘We won’t stop until Syria is back to normal’

Near the front lines with Islamist-controlled towns where Assad’s troops were besieged just last month, Robert Fisk meets a commander confidently preparing his soldiers for battle
Fifa corruption: Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

Strip Qatar of the World Cup? Not likely

But if a real smoking gun is found, that might change things, says Tom Peck
Twenty two years later Jurassic Park series faces questions over accuracy of the fictional dinosaurs in it

Tyrannosaurus wrecked?

Twenty two years on, Jurassic Park faces questions over accuracy
The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation may undermine Hillary's chances

The inside story of how Bill Clinton built a $2bn global foundation...

... and how it may undermine Hillary's chances in 2016
Genes greatly influence when and how many babies a woman will have, study finds

Mother’s genes play key role in decision to start a family

Study's findings suggest that human fertility is still evolving
12 best olive oils

Extra-virgin, cold-press, early-harvest, ultra-premium: 12 best olive oils

Choosing an olive oil is a surprising minefield. Save yourself the hassle with our handy guide
Rafa Benitez Real Madrid unveiling: New manager full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

Benitez full of emotion at Bernabeu homecoming

There were tears in the former Liverpool manager’s eyes as he was unveiled as Real Madrid coach. But the Spaniard knows he must make tough decisions if he is to succeed
England can win the Ashes – and Elvis Presley will present the urn

England can win the Ashes – and Elvis will present the urn

In their last five Test, they have lost two and drawn two and defeated an India side last summer who thought that turning up was competing, says Stephen Brenkley
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)