A key government programme to allow community groups take over and run council buildings has failed to create a “step change” in the rate of transfers, according to a new report.
The interim findings of a two-year evaluation of the Asset Transfer Unit written by consultants SQW said the government needed to develop a formal transfer strategy once funding for the programme runs out in 2011.
The ATU currently supports 141 projects in 110 local authorities. SQW estimated that during the unit’s lifetime it will directly enable on average 20-25 transfers a year.
Although the unit’s influence was found to be generally positive, the number of transfer schemes it supported varied radically between regions. The proportion of councils given support in the south-east stood at 10%, compared to more than 80% in north-east.
The report also said a “substantial number” of councils had not benefitted from the ATU and called for more pro-active targeting in certain areas.
However, SQW found that for a relatively modestly funded unit, its profile and reach was “impressive”, with 80% of local authorities saying they were aware of its work.
It was also found that officers were generally responsible for dealing with property transfers and that there was scope for councillors to take more of a lead.