In support of community assets

Ailbhe McNabola, Head of Research and Policy at Power to Change, outlines important work being undertaken on community assets, and why registering your asset is so critical.

At Power to Change, we believe that community ownership of assets matters. It benefits local communities by supporting the delivery of valued local services. It builds community wealth, supports bottom-up regeneration, and gives local people a greater sense of control of the things that matter to them.

From community-owned and managed village halls and green spaces, to energy facilities and housing, the range of community assets in England is extensive. Previous research has taught us about some of the benefits (and costs) of these resources to local communities, and some of the barriers to their development and sustainability. More recent research has revealed how asset transfers and other processes are helping communities acquire assets to meet local needs, and how such transfers should be appraised and evaluated. Yet, we are still unclear about the size and composition of this sector, the barriers to its growth, the value of such activity, and the significance of different policies and funding programmes. With this in mind, Power to Change has commissioned the Centre for Regional, Economic and Social Research (CRESR) at Sheffield Hallam University to undertake detailed research in this field.

This study aims to provide robust evidence and analysis concerning the extent of community asset ownership in England. It will also assess the outcomes being delivered, the economic health and sustainability of asset-owning organisations, as well as providing insights into the role played by government and other stakeholders. In particular, the study will:

  • Provide a detailed mapping of community assets
  • Undertake in-depth economic assessments of community assets
  • Provide deeper insights into the challenges faced by community asset owners
  • Explore the effectiveness of policy interventions, funding provision, support and other factors

A critical part of this work involves developing a register of community assets; after all if we cannot quantify and explain the scale of community asset ownership and management, how can we understand its value and impact? The researchers have set up a system – the Community Assets Exchange (CAsE) – to enable organisations to log details about their assets.

This will reap some rewards in the long term for those who participate, ensuring that funders can reach them with relevant funding and support opportunities, by helping them connect with other community assets more easily, by aiding promotional work and advocacy, and in minimising the need for repetitive requests about the assets that are owned and managed. The register will be hosted online and made publicly available via Keep It In The Community.

We urge you to provide details about your community assets. You can do this by following this link. You can also get involved in the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #GetOnCAsE.

The research will be completed in the spring of 2019, but we’ll share as much as we can as we go along. For more information about the project you can contact:

ailbhem@powertochange.org.uk or tom.archer@shu.ac.uk