Disused Government properties available for start-ups

Start-ups and small businesses will be able to take advantage of 20 disused Government properties at low rental costs, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has announced.

The 18 locations, including buildings in London, Rugby, Leeds, Runcorn, Birmingham, Oxford and Bristol, have been picked as potential spaces to be made available to entrepreneurs wishing to build and develop their business.

The Government hopes to work in co-operation with landlords to offer the 20,000 square meters of space to small businesses for flexible short term leases at reduced costs.

Business and enterprise minister Mark Prisk said: "Many entrepreneurs struggle to find a suitably flexible and affordable space to start their business, so this is a practical measure which the Government is taking to support the next generation of businesses. Opening up areas that are not being used will give entrepreneurs access to the space they need to start and grow."

In its first step, the Government has opened invites to business organisations wishing to manage and allocate the spaces to new and existing small businesses. The organisations will also provide ongoing support and advice to those businesses operating within the spaces.

The Government was criticised in January this year after it was revealed that some of its estate and buildings had lain empty for more than a decade - in some cases costing the taxpayer thousands of pounds.

Some 900 Government properties have been vacated since May 2010. However, Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude said that it had 'a tight grip on government property', claiming it had saved over £100 million in the last financial and provided opportunities for growth in local communities.

"In some cases it's not possible to sell a building or exit a lease immediately when the space is no longer needed," he said.

"Rather than letting these buildings sit empty at the taxpayers' expense, we are making this space available to SMEs."

Business organisations are being asked to register their interest in managing the spaces via the Government's Business Link website by the 29 June.