The Government should set up a new fund to help community groups take control of council assets, according to a coalition of civil society organisations.
In a letter to the prime minister, the groups say they predict an ‘unprecedented’ release of local government assets in the next few years.
However, they say many councils are taking a ‘narrow’ approach to asset disposal by only focusing on the immediate cash return, so ignore the wider social and economic benefits of transferring assets to community ownership.
It also said ‘unrealistic’ timescales and technical and regulatory barriers are preventing community groups and charities from buying assets from local authorities.
The letter says a new Community Capital Fund would allow charities and community groups to bid for funding to help take over assets. They say this would help organisations to lever in additional finance to secure assets for sale and then operate them sustainably.
The letter read: ‘The total asset base of local authorities in England is estimated to be worth £250bn, and there is now an opportunity to ensure that vital community assets are safeguarded and continue to benefit local people while also boosting the ability of community organisation to deliver public services.’