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Save money by giving PFI bidders surveys, DSS told

FIRMS BIDDING to run the Department of Social Security's property estate could have given better value for money if they had not had to carry out their own structural surveys, National Audit Office said last week.

The NAO report into the DSS's privately financed PRIME project said that government departments planning to privatise their property estates should provide surveys before bidding starts.

PRIME covers 700 DSS buildings with a total floor space of 1.64mm2. Trillium, a consortium including Goldman Sachs, developer Mychand and facilities managers Compass and Symonds, now looks after the property. It will make office space available to the DSS for 20 years in return for an availability payment.

The NAO said it expected the deal to save the DSS £250M over 20 years by allowing unused office space to be offloaded and by bringing in private sector facilities management expertise.

But it added that savings could have been higher if more information had been made available to bidders.

'The Department had difficulty in providing bidders with accurate and sufficient information on the composition, condition, running costs and tenure of the estate,' says the report.

The PRIME project: the transfer of the Department of Social Security Estate to the private sector, Stationary Office, price £10.15.

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