Monday 5 December 2016

Vacant office space costs the state more than €1m as leases snare helpless bodies

Published 14/08/2016 | 02:30

Between the years of 2005 and 2014, the Galway Roscommon ETB racked up a cost to the state of €336,227 for its lease on the Hynes Building (Stock picture)
Between the years of 2005 and 2014, the Galway Roscommon ETB racked up a cost to the state of €336,227 for its lease on the Hynes Building (Stock picture)

More than €1m has been spent by seven state agencies on leases for unused accommodation, accounts reviewed by the Comptroller and Auditor General show.

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Amalgamations and staff cuts have landed the bodies with leases for office space that is no longer required.

The agencies affected are the Waterford Wexford Education and Training Board (ETB), the Galway Roscommon ETB, the National Transport Authority, the Law Reform Commission, the Health Research Board, Safe Food Ireland, and IDA Ireland.

Between the years of 2005 and 2014, the Galway Roscommon ETB racked up a cost to the state of €336,227 for its lease on the Hynes Building. The cost was inflicted on the agency despite it sub-letting the building during the period.

Elsewhere, in the Waterford Wexford ETB there was "ineffective expenditure" of €418,094 on the lease of Iberius House in Wexford Town between July 2006 and October 2014.

Meanwhile, the Law Reform Commission's (LRC) €62,362 annual rent bill on unoccupied office space is set to come to a close next year as the state bodies continue to cull their spend on wasted space.

The LRC rents two floors of a four-storey building on Shelbourne Road in Ballsbridge. However, following staff cuts in 2011, the top floor became vacant before being partially leased to the credit union restructuring board, Rebo.

In 2014, the Food Safety Recommendation Board incurred non-effective expenditure of €76,000 on rent as a result of unoccupied space at its headquarters building. The vacancy came about after an expired sub-lease in December 2013.

A similar scenario emerged at the Health Research Board, which vacated No 19, Clanwilliam Terrace, Dublin 2 in 2009. At the end of 2013, the Health Research Board had spent €285,690 in non-effective expenditure on rent of the property. The Health Research Board also spent €28,569 on the building in June 2014 - to exercise the break clause of the 25-year lease.

The National Transport Authority is shackled by a lease that was assigned by the then Commission for Taxi Regulation. The lease on the space at No 35, Fitzwilliam Square, is incurring a net cost to the authority of €90,000 per annum. By the end of 2014, net cost of €135,000 had been assumed by the authority.

In July, the IDA shelled out €9.4m to get out of a lease on an unused building in Ballsbridge. The building had been costing the agency €1m per year.

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