Reason for the decision
The Kent County Council (KCC) property estate across the portfolio is unsustainable, with high associated revenue costs to run buildings to support service delivery. The cost of maintaining our buildings at the current level is unmanageable, with estimated backlog maintenance cost standing at £42m across the buildings in the scope of this decision.
The Council needs to reduce the size of its property estate to reduce revenue costs in line with the Medium-Term Financial Plan (MTFP), reduce the backlog maintenance bill to ease pressure on the capital budget and protect the authority against future market uncertainty. This reduction will also support the Councils net zero commitments as it will bring a reduction in CO2 emissions from the estate.
The COVID-19 pandemic saw a shift in how service users’ access services and demonstrated that alternative delivery methods were viable. This decision facilitates a significant shift in service delivery towards alternative methods where appropriate.
Since late 2021 the Programme team, KCC Analytics team and service representatives have developed the Needs Framework which assesses in detail the level of predicted service need across every single ward within the County. The Needs Framework used data to identify the varying level of need for different services across the county. This analysis included public transport mapping. The model is designed to compare need across the County and provide guidance as to where our resources can have the most impact for our residents. Our existing property footprint was overlaid on to of the Needs Framework to identify where we had buildings in, or close to, areas of higher need. The input of service experts also helped to inform the draft model.
Options (other options considered but discarded)
As part of the consultation document the following options were identified as alternative methods for reviewing the size of the estate and the buildings used for specific services:
- Close the most expensive buildings to run.
- Close the most valuable assets.
- Close the most environmentally inefficient buildings.
- Do nothing.
The consultation document concluded that these options would either disproportionately impact some of the highest need communities, or in the case of the Do Nothing option, would not achieve the required outcomes.
Specific options have been developed following the consultation and are included for member consideration and decision. The options as set out in the paper were:
1. Go further: making more significant changes to the model, closing more sites than originally set out in the consultation model.
2. Consultation option: proceed and implement the option as set out in the consultation.
3. Amend Need Framework to take greater weight of public transport network analysis: responding to the consultation by bringing back into the model centres based on consultation feedback regarding transport accessibility.
4. Amend Need Framework to take greatest weight of public transport network analysis: more significant changes to the model as a response to the consultation feedback.
5. Do nothing: continue with the status quo and make no changes.
How the proposed decision supports the Framing Kent's Future - Our Council Strategy 2022-2026
The decision supports the following objectives within Framing Kent’s Future:
- Levelling Up Kent; by facilitating the physical estate this supports the Family Hub model – this model better coordinates activity between KCC and our partners, particularly the NHS.
- Infrastructure For Communities; by utilising the Need Framework to provide the right services, in the most appropriate format, for communities across Kent – recognising that a single ‘blanket’ approach will not work for many different communities.
- Environmental Step Change; by reducing the carbon emissions from our own estate.
- New Models of Care and Support; by providing the physical assets required to deliver services appropriate and responsive to adults and children that require our support.
The Decision supports the requirements set out in Securing Kent’s Future by facilitating revenue savings across the Corporate Landlord Estate (CLL) and service areas in scope.
Data Protection implications
A Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) has not been required as no personal data is involved in the Programme options. A DPIA covers the consultation procedure for the entire Council.
Decision type: Key
Reason Key: Expenditure or savings of more than £1m;
Decision status: Recommendations Approved (subject to call-in)
Division affected: (All Division);
Notice of proposed decision first published: 01/11/2023
Decision due: 30 Nov 2023 by Cabinet
Reason: To allow 28 day notice period required under Exeuctive Decision regulations
Lead member: Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance, Corporate and Traded Services
Lead director: Rebecca Spore
Department: Strategic & Corporate Services
Contact: Ben Sherreard, Programme Manager Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 03000419815.
Public consultation was undertaken between 17 January 2023 and 26 March 2023 and feedback has been considered within the proposals of this decision.
The link to the consultation is here: Community Services Consultation | Let’s talk Kent
Cabinet Committee consultation:
The proposed decision will be considered by the Policy & Resources Cabinet Committee on 22 November 2023.
Financial implications: The consultation proposal set out the financial drivers for the programme which included: - MTFP revenue savings for the Corporate Landlord. - MTFP revenue savings for ASCH and CYPE directorates. - Reduction of backlog maintenance liability (total liability estimated to be at least £42m across the buildings in scope of the programme) - Disposal income from buildings declared surplus to requirements. The decision report will set out the financial implications of each option for consideration by members including the benefits of each option against each of the four points above.
Legal implications: Services have all confirmed that their statutory functions are not undermined by the proposals within the viable options outlined in this decision. The Council’s Best Value Duty considerations will be detailed in the report to committees and Cabinet. External legal advice has been provided by Bevan Brittan alongside General Counsel.
Equalities implications: A full Equalities Impact Analysis has been undertaken by each individual service and by the Programme as a whole. The service specific Equalities Impact Assessments (EqIAs) were part of the consultation material and have been updated following feedback from the consultation.