Councils should unlock £7 billion of local assets

A new report urges public bodies to unlock untapped assets worth an estimated £7 billion to help keep local areas strong and vibrant.

The PBE report by Power to Change, the trust focused on improving the environment for community business in England, says 60 per cent of councils have adopted policies that enable them to transfer the management or ownership of public land and buildings to community businesses, but only a third consider social value when doing so. Many try to lower financial risk by leaving buildings and land unused or by selling them.

The Economics of Community Asset Transfers, written by Pro Bono Economics, government economists, defines a framework for developing, appraising, implementing and evaluating social value, which involves unlocking local assets such as community centres, swimming pools, town halls and libraries.

Vidhya Alakeson, Power to Change chief executive, said: “This report will help local communities to grow and flourish, even in a rapidly changing economic climate.

“It is time for them to stimulate activity, regeneration and growth by harnessing the value of assets that might otherwise be left empty or unused.”

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