Government spending review: More public land to be sold off for homes as George Osborne seeks £20bn in savings

 
Catherine Neilan
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The Ministry of Defence owns one per cent of UK land alone (Source: Getty)
Remember, remember 25 November: that's when the government will publish its spending review, setting out exactly how it will cut £20bn to eradicate the country's deficit over the next five years.
And it looks like that a pretty major literal land-grab will be taking place.
The chief secretary to the Treasury Greg Hands will today write to the various government departments, asking them to draw up plans for how to cut this figure from the nation's bills. Departments will be required to come up with two scenarios – one generating 25 per cent of savings from their current budget and one of 40 per cent.
In particular, departments are being asked to identify public sector land that can be sold off to help create at least 150,000 homes by 2020.
This is the first time such a measure has been adopted, although since 2010 central government has vacated 2,000 properties and sold off two million square metres - “equivalent to 27 Buckingham Palaces” - which has generated savings of £800m, and more than £1.7bn raised from sales.
Government still owns £300bn worth of land, however, with the Ministry of Defence owning one per cent of all UK land alone.
The spending review will also devolve more power and services to local areas.
Chancellor George Osborne said: “This spending review is the next step in our plan to eliminate the deficit, run a 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. We’ll deliver more with less.”
But of course, we're assuming you already have the 25 November in your diaries. After all, that's the date of the 2015 City A.M. Awards...

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