Asset plan 'under-used'

A scheme that allows community groups to take over public assets has been under-used, says a report that will be published this month.

Ruth Kelly, the communities secretary, appointed Barry Quirk, chief executive of Lewisham Council, to conduct a review last September.

He was asked to consider the barriers that prevent a more widespread transfer of public assets such as land and buildings into community ownership.

Andrew Robinson, director of marketing at charity investment manager CCLA and a member of Quirk's review team, said: "We don't have a system that has been enabling for people in deprived communities.

"People seem to hear about asset transfers and think 'why do that?' It's not being taken seriously and it needs to be considered as a matter of course."

Robinson suggested that local authority officials might have been put off by the potential risks of transferring their assets, and said people needed to be educated on the issue to eradicate misconceptions.

"This isn't about the transfer of public assets to charities at cheap prices just because they're charities," he said. "It's about allowing communities to create the best projects for social returns."

The report, to be published on 15 May, will make several recommendations. Kelly said the Government would respond with an implementation plan this month.

The Adventure Capital Fund has commissioned its own research into the barriers to more widespread community acquisition of assets, which will be launched on the same day as the Quirk report.

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