The guide, launched by Locality, the national network supporting community organisations, and Power to Change, the independent trust supporting community businesses in England, includes essential steps that councillors can take to make Community Asset Transfer (CAT) a success for their communities.
It follows a recent poll carried out by YouGov, commissioned by Locality, which found that 71% of people feel they have not much or no control over the important decisions that affect their neighbourhood and local community.
Tony Armstrong, Chief Executive of Locality said: “Councils are facing enormous financial pressures – and we know that every penny counts when it comes to raising money. But while flogging off our community assets might generate income in the short term, once these spaces are lost – they are lost forever.
“Community asset transfer is a proven route for protecting cherished local spaces, leveraging community capacity and local enterprise to transform local amenities and revitalise the local economy. It is about putting genuine power in the hands of communities, with citizens and the council working together to achieve the best possible outcomes for their places.”
Vidhya Alakeson, Chief Executive of Power to Change said: “Council-owned land, buildings and green spaces are the beating heart of community life. Community centres, libraries, swimming pools and town halls are the places where local people come together as communities, meet their neighbours and take their children.
“Assets like the Meltham Carlile Institute, which was transferred to community ownership in 2013, now houses the council’s offices, a library and a gym, and Bramley Baths a Grade II bath house that the council couldn’t afford to run is now a community owned pool which attracts over 2000 people a week. Some councils have shown great vision in transferring assets successfully but many more need to follow suit.
“Our research has found that there are around £7 billion worth of assets that could be transferred from the council and their communities, and run as community businesses, recycling profits into the local economy. This guide will make it even easier for councillors to unlock that potential.”
Under community ownership, local assets can thrive. Community owners are also often able to leverage additional funding, as well as volunteer capacity, that they public sector cannot access. Community-owned buildings can also support a network of local enterprises, by providing low-rents to tenant organisations and can lead to more training and job opportunities for local people.
We are calling on councillors to download our guide and use it to consider how community asset transfer could work in their areas, working in close partnership with local people to harness the huge ‘power of community’ that exists in our neighbourhoods.