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LocatED annual report and accounts: 5 things we learned



LocatED, the Department for Education’s property firm, has published its first annual report and accounts, giving a glimpse into the inner-workings of the secretive company set up to buy free school sites.

1. LocatED had no targets last year, but it does now

The report shows that the company had no key performance indicators in 2016-17, but has now established some.

Key performance indicators are the targets against which the company’s performance will be judged by the government.

These are:

  • Delivery time: The average time between the commissioning of a requirement and the exchange of contracts should be no more than 10 months
  • Cost of sites: The anticipated cost per pupil for school land and buildings should be “lower than expected in January 2017”, and be lower in relation to the site’s “red book value” than would have been the case previously.
  • Stakeholder engagement: The company must achieve a composite score of at least 80 per cent , representing the effectiveness of its work with partners. This will be based on its work with partners

2. The company expects to find 100 sites in its first full year

In 2017-18, the company expects to secure “over 100 sites for free schools”, and manage 80 sites already held.

The firm will also advise the DfE and other education bodies and “enter into more complex mixed-use developments in support of the efficient delivery of new schools”, and dispose of sites that are “no longer required”.

3. The chief executive will earn £190k a year

According to the company’s accounts, LocatED’s chief executive, Lara Newman, is paid a salary of £190,000 a year.

It is also believed that staff will get bonuses – there is a blank column in the accounts for bonus details, but no payments listed for 2016-17.

4. LocatED’s new offices cost more than £400k

The company, which has been tasked with achieving better value for money from the free schools programme’s capital acquisitions, spent a cool £464,000 on its new offices.

This figure is listed as “premises costs including rates and service charges” and listed under “other operating expenditure”.

Other costs for 2016-17 include £45,000 on marketing, £44,000 on travel and subsistence, £33,000 on consultancy and professional services and £18,000 on staff.

According to the accounts, LocatED paid the Department for Education £411,000 in fit-out costs, utilities, rent and service charge in 2016-17.

5. There’s uncertainty over the impact of Brexit

In a section on “events after the reporting period”, the company looks at the impact of certain big political changes, like the legislation in March that started the ball rolling on Britain’s exit from the European Union.

However, it seems that, as in many other parts of the education sector, there is uncertainty about what this means for LocatED.

“The financial effect of this event will not be known until after the reporting period and a reasonable estimate cannot be made at this time,” the report said.



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3 Comments

  1. Mark Watson

    LocatED’s website states its address is Regent Street, London. I never understand why such organisations feel the need to locate (sorry) themselves in places like this which presumably have among the highest rent and other costs in the UK. It’s not like all the workers would live close to the office either given the eye-watering prices of residential properties in the area too. Added to this is that presumably a lot of visits needs to be made all over the country, and we all know how easy it is to get into and out of the centre of London.
    Why not base the organisation in an area which is (a) cheaper, (b) easier to get to for its workers, and (c) more practicable? Even the BBC have cottoned on to this with it’s move of large chunks of the organisation to Salford. I’m not suggesting that LocatED even has to leave London, but it wouldn’t be hard to find an HQ that is more sensible …

    • Mark – you’re right that it should be possible for organisations such as LocatED could move out of London. Locating in London reinforces the idea that London is the place to be and anywhere else is second best. There was once a suggestion that the Government move to Birmingham during renovation of the Houses of Parliament but that was rejected.
      The idea that London is the vibrant centre of the UK partly contributes to the division of the UK highlighted by the just-published Social Mobility report. London attracts investment while other areas don’t.
      The problem’s worsened in large LAs with small populations such as Lincolnshire. The community charge doesn’t bring in enough to support the needs of widely-dispersed populations (eg the cost of maintaining hundreds of miles of roads, school transport costs, supporting frail, vulnerable people in remote villages). Is it the same in Gloucestershire?

      • Mark Watson

        Gloucestershire has long had a beef about being one of the poorest funded counties in terms of school funding. We were rather selfishly hoping that out of the Fairer Funding Formula review we might at least do better than we currently do. That’s blind optimism for you!
        We are a rural county and as such we have the same concerns as you list – lots of small rural roads and the disparity between urban centres (Gloucester, Cheltenham etc) and the 1,000s of tiny villages. We could do with more money spent on infrastructure and services, just like every other county I imagine, but I don’t see London as the problem. I may be wrong (I frequently am) but doesn’t London make more of a contribution to the economy than it takes out – i.e. it’s proportionally a net contributor?
        The problem with public sector services is that there’s always a limited pot, and it’s never enough whatever the colour of Government. Trying to be objective, but without wishing to bring opprobrium crashing down on me, we’re all complaining about what money is being spent on schools today and by implication that it was so much better ‘back in the day’. However I’ve never lived through a time where the education sector felt that it was being well looked after and that it didn’t want more money. However bad it might feel today, and however difficult it may be to believe it, if school budgets continue to reduce year on year at some point we’ll look back on 2017 and think how good it was then!
        (Of course that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue to fight for more money for education!)