Asset Transfer: What we can learn from Birmingham City Council
When we’re looking for examples to share at our Good Practice Exchange events, we often come across some fantastic examples that we’d love to share, but that the potential speaker can’t make due to a clash in their diary. This happened when we were organising the Land and Asset Transfer Shared Learning Events, when we heard about some interesting work by Birmingham City Council.
The project has now come to an end, but it’s great to read in their blog that the approach has led to a consistent approach to asset transfer in Birmingham for all voluntary and community groups.
There are lots of really useful resources on the website, including a tool that aims to capture the social value of the transferral of an asset to the community, which is used to calculate a rent rebate for leases agreed under the Council’s Community Asset Transfer Protocol. You can also find the guidance here.
When an asset is transferred, it’s important that the arrangement is suitable for both parties. At the seminar we heard how some Town and Community Councils are being asked to take on assets, and how the right financial conditions need to be in place to ensure that the transfer is successful. It’s great then that in this case, the initial document agreed by both parties is appended to the lease and is the basis for its reviews.
It’s also important that organisations bear in mind the social value of an asset. I think it’s fantastic that community participation is part of the Proposed Activities and Use Assessment, because after the ink has dried on the deal, the community will play a massive part in whether it’s successful.
Working across organisational boundaries also fits in under the Agency Service Usage section, which measures the use of the building by other agencies. In this case, the tool works on the basis of a flat rate of £10 for every meter square of space rented by the organisation.
Many aspects of the toolkit could be adapted for use in Wales too. Here, the Communities First programme is based on the Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation, and it’s interesting to see how this toolkit scores the location based on whether the asset is based in deprived wards according to the Index of Multiple Deprivation.
So all in all this toolkit provides a lot of food for thought, and if you have used it, are looking to use it or might adapt it, we’d love to hear from you. You can also watch an analysis of the approach to Community Asset Transfer in the area at Birmingham City Council Webcasting.