In 2007, the government published "Making assets work: the Quirk review". This report proposed that community organisations should be encouraged to take on the management and ownership of community assets (such as buildings and open spaces) from statutory organisations, such as councils and the national health service. The government considers this to be an important part of the Big Society strategy.
Croydon's local strategic partnership considers that asset transfer could make a significant contribution to community empowerment, wealth creation and community cohesion. For more information about its benefits, download the 'transfer of public assets to the community' paper, below.
Assets available for transfer
The potential transfer of assets to the community will be built into Croydon Council's asset management plan. Decisions on buildings declared surplus will be made on a case by case basis against an assessment of social value and the capital value of the asset.
We currently lease about 50 buildings and plots of land to voluntary and community organisations. Most are on short to medium term leases with shared responsibility for repairs and maintenance. Where premises are leased to organisations funded by the council to provide services, they will not be available for transfer unless there is clearly a wider community benefit. However, we will consider other leased premises for transfer.
We will consider consortium bids from leaseholders, or on behalf of the leaseholders, of a number of buildings which may be managed jointly.
Terms of asset transfer
The transfer of assets to the community is intended to provide independence and sustainability. The transfer may be made by passing the freehold to a community organisation or by granting a long lease (over 25 years).
- We prefer to grant long leases. Long term lessees will have access to assets which would not be available to lessees with short or medium term leases. However, they will take on full responsibility for repairs and maintenance. Lessees would not be able to have repairs done under the council's facilities management contract with Interserve. In addition, the rent would reflect the market value of the premises. We would not automatically provide grant aid to meet this cost. However, we may decide to give grant aid towards rent as part of a wider funding package to the organisation (currently rents are normally at preferential rates and organisations funded to provide services receive a full rent rebate).
- We will only transfer freehold at a discount on the market where there is a clear business case. This must demonstrate that the social value of the transfer outweighs the loss of capital receipt to the council.
How to apply
When assets are put forward for transfer, we will provide information about these assets and an application form that can be downloaded on these web pages. Community organisations will need to prove that they are capable of managing transferred assets. They will have to demonstrate that:
- The project is sustainable, and that the asset could be maintained adequately by carrying out a cash flow and budget forecast.
- They have experience of, and/or commitment to, partnership working, showing that the asset would be put to a variety of uses to benefit the community.
- They have the appropriate skills, knowledge and expertise to sustain the project in the long term.
- Their organisation has clearly defined structures, roles and responsibilities, whether voluntary and/or paid, that are appropriate to deliver the project, adequate constitution, governance arrangements and management controls are in place.
- The aims and objectives of the project have clear links to key objectives in Croydon's Community Strategy 2010-15.
- All relevant equality standards, child and adults at risk protection, health and safety, planning and licensing requirements will be met.
- They can show local need and community support through consultation, and that the project is not only aligned with a single interest group.
- They have processes that can monitor and evaluate the project outcomes, including the provision for an impact assessment.
There are currently no assets available for transfer. However, information about Selsdon and Stanley Halls, for which we have already received applications can be found on the links above.
General guidance notes and expression of interest forms can be downloaded below.
Evaluation of proposals
We will consider two key factors
- the benefits to the local community
- the ability of the organisation to sustain the use of the asset over the leased period.
A detailed assessment of risk will be an integral part of the evaluation. This will use guidance on the management of risk and a toolkit for public bodies to use in assessing transfer proposals produced by the government. The Quirk Report states that "the benefits of community management and ownership of public assets can outweigh the risks and often the opportunity costs in appropriate circumstances. And if there is a rational and thorough consideration of these risks and opportunity costs, there are no substantive impediments to the transfer of public assets to communities."
Many organisations have the potential to manage premises effectively, but do not meet the full criteria for asset transfer. Croydon Voluntary Action will be able to provide capacity building for these organisations, including:
- a skills audit
- a capacity building plan agreed on point of transfer
- visible standards (or equivalent good practice standards)
- PQASSO or equivalent quality assurance
- providing access to expert advice on finance and resources (commercial loans, lottery funding, Future Builders and community anchor funding etc).
In addition, Croydon Council may be able to provide interest free loans of up to £100,000, subject to funds being available.
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