The Senator confirmed the strategy in response to queries from chief scrutineer Senator Kristina Moore, who posed questions about the need to purchase new offices as the Island faces substantial debt caused by the pandemic.
Senator Le Fondré has long maintained that he would like to see all public sector office staff working under one roof.
In 2018, more than 500 government staff moved into 19–21 Broad Street, which was formally occupied by RBC, with the building acting as an ‘interim’ HQ until a permanent base could be found.
In his letter to Senator Moore, the Chief Minister confirmed the government was still searching for a new home but would look at renting a new building, before buying it in a few years’ time.
‘With reference to the new offices, of course we could choose not to progress that project. However, the interim move to Broad Street has proved worthwhile and enabled a more joined up government which we are keen to expand,’ he wrote.
‘This has paid huge dividends in dealing with the pandemic. However, the current situation in Broad Street does not enable the government to release more buildings or release ourselves from rental agreements or enabling the sale of property no longer required for other projects, most notably housing.
‘The current strategy is to rent the new premises, which will allow government the flexibility to decide whether it wishes to own that asset at a later date, once the overall borrowing position is clearer in 2026. This flexibility will also provide time to allow the Island’s economic and financial landscape to be clearer.’
He added that whether the new offices were rented or owned, savings of around £7 million per year would be expected by moving to a single headquarters.
Earlier this year it was suggested by former Environment Minister Steve Luce that the planned seven-storey IFC2 building at the International Finance Centre might be the best location for the new HQ.
The Chief Minister said that the selection of that site was ‘not a given’ but added that a number of other buildings were being considered.