A health body with the worst deficit in the country has been slammed as “disgraceful” for forking out nearly £300k a year to lease ‘luxury’ office space within an historic country estate.
Bedfordshire Clinic Commissioning Group (BCCG) last year reported being £43.2million in the red and is ‘under directions’ imposed by NHS England.
But a Freedom of Information request revealed it splashed out £280,000 moving to Wrest Park in Bedford in 2013, as well as basing its staff at four other sites across the county, with rents totalling £105,500 per annum.
John Mingay, chairman of the adult services and health scrutiny committee at Bedford Borough Council, said: “It’s disgraceful.
“That is an excessive amount to spend on workspace - a public body with serious financial difficulties is staying in what can only be described as luxury accommodation .
“We’ve got space in Borough Hall that would be far cheaper.”
The group did not reveal how many of its staff work at headquarters Capability house but said it employs about 180 people.
An office detail website describes the site as “recently refurbished to a high standard, offering bright, well-equipped offices with a host of special features”.
“The centre boasts a well-appointed kitchen facility, staffed reception area, on-site cafe and bathrooms with showers.
“The building is centred around a stunning glass atrium where staff and visitors can relax and unwind.”
Stephen Moon, leader of the Bedford Borough Conservative Group, said: “This is high standard accommodation in a sought-after location.
“A public body should consider carefully how it spends its money.”
Chartered surveyors Kirkby and Diamond estimate an office for 140 people would require 11,000-14,000 square feet, which they say would cost an average of £140k-170k a year in Bedford, but point out the closer to London you move, the more expensive property will be.
A spokeswoman for BCCG said: “While the rent that BCCG pays for office premises is commensurate with prices for office accommodation across the county, we are always keen to ensure value for money, and this, like all other business costs is routinely reviewed.”