Community based organisations are often much more effective at engaging people than other types of organisation because they are close to and directly accountable to their community.
Communities that come together to plan and deliver services can make them more inclusive and responsive than state run services. Communities can mobilise a lot of volunteer time and energy.
What can asset transfer achieve?
Asset transfer can:
- Give sports clubs and community organisations more security and sustainability
- Enable people to protect the assets in their communities – including iconic heritage buildings and open spaces
- Involve people in designing and running the services from which they benefit
- Be a catalyst for getting people more involved as volunteers
- Keep money in the local economy through enterprise and locally owned assets
- Promote ‘community anchor organisations’ which provide all kinds of services.
Benefits to the local authority
Benefits to the local authority might include:
- Supporting policy objectives like health and wellbeing, volunteering, and education
- Financial leverage - unlock funding from sources not available to the local authority
- Reducing costs of managing under-used facilities
- Enabling the LA to co-locate with community services
- Creating a stronger relationship of trust with a community
- Supporting a less ‘grant dependent’ community and voluntary sector.
Other potential benefits
Potential benefits to the community sport organisation taking ownership might include:
- Improving the quality of the asset leading to an increase in user satisfaction
- Opportunities to grow participation in sport and increase usage
- An increase in the ability to generate income and create a more sustainable financial position
- Long term security and a stronger identity
- Funding for capital improvements to the site or facility
- Improvements to management capacity and organisational development including the benefits of incorporation and charity registration.
Risks in asset transfer for local authorities
Local authorities need to be reasonably confident that a transfer is in the best interests of the community and the organisation which is asking for the transfer. There may be competing claims between different clubs and community organisations.
One of the roles of local authorities is to balance the interests of competing claims and make a judgement; this has always been a key part of local government’s role. There is always a risk that the site will be badly managed or not looked after, or that promised benefits do not appear.
However, while risks undoubtedly exist in the transfer of assets from local authorities to community-based organisations, this is not a reason in itself to avoid going down that path.
The Department for Communities and Local Government have produced a guide on managing risks in asset transfer, based on practical advice from the experiences of both local authorities and community groups.
Click here to find out more.
Assets or liabilities for community organisations?
- Not all land and buildings are assets. Sites and facilities for transfer are only going to be real assets if they are capable of at least breaking even, ideally generating net profits or if they come with a guaranteed subsidy, in the form of grant or endowment.
- Historic underinvestment may mean that significant refurbishment or maintenance costs are needed. Restrictions in how the asset can be used may mean that enterprising plans are simply not feasible. If projects are to be successful at delivering community benefit for the long term, a proper assessment of viability is paramount.
- Community sports organisations should not allow external pressures to force them into agreeing to something if they are not convinced of a project’s potential to be viable and manageable.