Asset Transfer is the term used to describe the process of the transfer of the ownership (or leasehold) of property or land from one party to another. Asset transfer can help to secure community use of buildings and provide a development opportunity for local community and voluntary organisations.

What is Community Asset Transfer?

Community Asset Transfer is about giving local people and community groups greater control in the future of their area and their community. If local groups own or manage community buildings, such as community centres, it can help promote a sense of belonging in the community and bring people from different backgrounds together to work towards a shared goal, creating lasting change in local neighbourhoods.

Community ownership can also play a part in raising people’s aspirations, improving the skills of the people involved and encourage a stronger community spirit by enhancing the local environment and helping to alleviate poverty.

The National Picture

The Quirk Review in 2007 recommended that local authorities and other public bodies consider community asset transfer as a viable option for achieving local benefit. In December 2010 the Localism Bill was published. This requires local authorities to draw up, hold and publish a list of assets of community value. Communities will have the opportunity to nominate for possible inclusion the assets that are most important to them.

The new “Community Right to Buy” measure in the Localism Bill will give local people a legal right to nominate vital buildings on a “most wanted” council list. If one of these assets is put up for sale, a ‘community countdown’ will be triggered, giving local people time to prepare a business plan and raise funds to bid for the asset.

However, like any major development, Community Asset Transfer also carries risks and groups considering asset transfer need to do a lot of work before pursuing it.

Organisations who want to apply for Community Asset Transfer will need to meet set criteria, including:

  • be an appropriately constituted voluntary and community sector organisation or social enterprise
  • be able to demonstrate good governance
  • be able to demonstrate sustainability/viability
  • the proposed use must ensure extensive reach into the community and will be open to all – organisations that serve a particular interest group or area will be expected to demonstrate how they will be inclusive
  • have the skills and capacity to effectively deliver services and manage the asset to be transferred and/or have access to the necessary skills and capacity
  • be aware of any need to build capacity within their organisation and demonstrate how they intend to do this

Local information

Portsmouth was selected as one of the 14 Local Authorities Pathfinders areas to support the development of the transfer of assets to third sector as part of the Government’s agenda to encourage devolution to local people and communities. The Asset Transfer Policy Framework was built upon current experience and best practice and aims to provide a clear policy framework for responding to any requests for asset transfer.

You can download Portsmouth City Council’s Community Asset Transfer Policy. Alternatively, visit the Community Asset Transfer page for more advice, guidance, case studies and reports.