Community-owned assets in England 'contribute £220m to economy'

A report commissioned by the government and Power to Change says there are more than 6,300 such undertakings

Hebden Bridge Town Hall, a community-owned asset

There are at least 6,300 community-owned assets in England, contributing almost £220m a year to the economy, new research shows.

Research commissioned by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government and Power to Change, which supports community businesses, shows there are an estimated 6,325 community-owned assets in England, although this is likely to be an underestimate, researchers said.

The research, which was carried out by the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University and the Institute for Voluntary Action Research, says community-owned assets, such as community-owned halls or centres, pubs, shops and swimming pools, contribute nearly £220m to the economy each year, including almost £150m of spending in local communities.

Most community assets are in less deprived, rural local authority areas, a paper about the research says, although some urban areas, including Liverpool and Manchester, buck this trend.

The sector is growing, with almost a third of all community-owned assets in England being set up in the past 10 years, the paper says.

It adds that three-quarters of community-owned assets report they are in good financial health, despite limited resources. But one in five made an operating loss of 10 per cent or more of revenue in the past financial year.

The report says 80 per cent of community assets are small, with annual revenues of less than £100,000.

It calls on local and national government to make it easier for assets to be transferred into community ownership and ensure community owners have better access to cheap finance.

Vidhya Alakeson, chief executive of Power to Change, said community-owned assets played an "increasingly vital role" in the places where they were based and the wider economy.

"When communities directly own land and buildings, they can start to meet the real needs of people in their areas," she said.

"That’s why we need concerted action from policy-makers at all levels to support community ownership."

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