Community Asset Transfer Toolkit & Diagnostic for
Community Organisations
A self help guide for
Community Asset Transfer
2
As part of the Deal Wigan Council is seeking
a new relationship with the community of
Wigan and Community Asset Transfer is one
mechanism which can contribute to that
new relationship.
What is Community Asset Transfer?
At its simplest level, community asset
transfer is a change in management and / or
ownership of land or buildings, from public
bodies, (most commonly local authorities),
to communities, (community and voluntary
sector groups, community enterprises,
social enterprises, etc). The spectrum of
transfer options can vary widely, but
communities typically take on the ownership
or management of a community asset on a
freehold, long lease, shorter lease or a
licence to occupy basis. Any group
interested in taking on an asset would not
only take responsibility for the building/land
but also its ongoing repairs, maintenance
and management, in most cases on a long
term lease.
As part of The Deal, local charity Douglas
Valley Community is working in partnership
with Wigan Council to support organisations
through Wigan Councils Community Asset
Transfer process. To help organisations
identify if they are ‘ready’ to take over a
community asset, Douglas Valley
Community has developed a Community
Asset Transfer Toolkit & Diagnostic
Questionnaire. Douglas Valley Community
will provide ‘ongoing support’ to your
organisation throughout the process.
The Toolkit is intended as a handy guide to
help you understand what is involved in
taking over and running a community asset.
It provides you with information, resources
and references to internet based
organisations such as Locality that might
help. The document is made up of two
sections.
Section 1 of the Toolkit provides
information, guidance and tips to help you
build up a picture of the process of applying
to take over the management of a
community asset’ from the expression of
interest stage, and onto the main application
stage.
Section 2 of the Toolkit is a Diagnostic
Questionnaire. This is a self-assessment
tool aimed at helping you identify the
strength and sustainability of your
organisation in readiness for Community
Asset Transfer.
3
Introduction
It is for people, organisations and social
enterprises that work at a neighbourhood or
community level in the Wigan Borough.
For example:
Individuals or groups of people coming
together for the first time for a specific
purpose, to deliver a particular service
from a building under threat of closure.
New or existing community, voluntary
organisations and social enterprises
looking to acquire premises/land from
which to grow and develop their services
within a particular neighbourhood or
community area.
4
Who is the Toolkit for?
The Community Asset Transfer process can be full of jargon. Definitions of some of the
terms included in Asset Transfer are listed below:
Assets – For the purposes of this toolkit we refer to a tenure interest in land or
buildings (freehold or leasehold).
Asset development – a process by which community organisations pursue an interest
in land or buildings for the benefit of their neighbourhood or community.
Asset base – the amount of assets owned by an organisation
Business plan – written up version of the business case
Capacity – the ability of a group or resource to be able to do something.
Feasible – whether the project is possible.
Feasibility Study – the basis on which a community project can achieve success.
Financially viable – in this context whether or not a community project can cover its
costs and set enough aside in reserve.
Objectives – goals, priorities and targets you intend to achieve in a particular
timescale.
Stakeholders – all those with an interest in a community project
Surplus – profit
Sustainable – a community project that is able to carry on going in the long-term
Jargon Buster
In its Community Asset Transfer Policy,
Wigan Council has clearly identified a range
of benefits that the asset transfer process
will have for both the community and the
Council.
For the community:
Strengthens community organisations (by
helping them to develop their ‘asset
base’).
Devolves decision-making to a
neighbourhood level.
Acts as a catalyst for community
regeneration.
Provides new opportunities to develop
and improve land & buildings.
Encourages community participation and
volunteering.
Builds confidence and the capacity
people have to further improve their
community.
For the Council:
Forges new partnerships with the
community.
Delivers on ‘shared outcomes’ and
objectives’ in key strategies.
Contributes towards efficiency savings –
revenue and capital.
Helps the drive towards a more efficient
use of council assets.
Opens doors to new sources of funding.
What is the Council looking for in a
Community Asset Transfer proposal?
Proposals to undertake a CAT project will be
assessed on the extent to which the transfer
is likely to lead to:
Improvements in local service provision.
Active engagement of the local
community in volunteering.
Strengthening of the financial viability
and sustainability of community
organisations.
Social, environmental and economic
regeneration of the area – including the
development of community enterprise
activities.
Improvements in the environmental
design of the building – particularly
concerning energy management.
Greater ‘co-location’ of local service
providers.
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What are the benefits of
Community Asset Transfer?
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Submit Expression of Interest
Submit Full Application including
Business Plan
Panel review application and make
recommendations to Deal Steering Group
The Deal Steering Group reviews the
recommendations and makes the final
recommendation to Deal Executive Board
The Deal Executive Board makes
community asset transfer
decision
Handover of asset to
successful organisation
Council agree recommendation for Asset Transfer
Flow Chart of Community
Asset Transfer
Before you start…
The motivation that you / your organisation
have in first considering taking on a
community asset will be important. In an
ideal world there will be a strong fit
between the potential that can be realised
in the project/activity/service you have
identified for the asset and the core purpose
of your group or organisation.
Here are some questions you might ask
yourself before you start the asset transfer
process.
Why is your organisation interested in
the asset and what are your plans?
Consider the reasons you are interested in
this land or building. You will need to
explain to the Council and demonstrate
throughout the process how you will
achieve your outcomes.
Below are some outcomes you may want
to consider:
Community empowerment and benefits
to the local or wider community
Capacity building through the use of
local skills, experience, knowledge and
time
Retaining and improving local provision
Delivering local services that meet local
needs through community led and
community controlled assets
Extending the use of a building or land to
do things in a different way, being as
creative and innovative as you can
Delivering value for money including the
ability to draw attract other sources of
funding not available to the council
Social enterprise and social well- being,
including community cohesion
Financial viability, long term sustainability
and external investment
Working with partners to deliver the
above
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So are you ready for
Community Asset Transfer?
Has your organisation established clear
and agreed ‘objectives’ wanting to take
on a community asset?
Here are some tips:
Look at existing community service
delivery / visit the building.
Take a look at the potential to build on
the existing situation and / or develop
new community uses, especially those
that might address an unmet need or fill a
gap in local service provision.
Go and see other similar projects
elsewhere. Talk to the managers of
services and facilities that offer the same
kinds of activities that you have in mind
for your community project.
Identify any local ‘competition’. Find out
about the activities and facilities they have
to offer. Look for opportunities to work
together and share resources.
Set your objectives. A simple list of the
things that you would like your project to
deliver
Engage with your ‘key stakeholders’.
Stakeholders could include; local
residents; elected members, neighbours;
the existing users of the building/land.
Where appropriate, talk to them to find
out what they want and need. It may be
that you want to involve them directly in
helping you to develop your project
proposals
Does your organisation have the
capacity’ to take on a community asset?
This is about your organisation having the
right governance in place, having the right
mix of abilities, skills, knowledge and
experience, together with the time and
financial resources necessary to commit to
taking over and maintaining a community
asset.
The Diagnostic questionnaire in Section
2 is intended to help you with this
Has your organisation proved that the
proposals for your community project
are ‘feasible’?
T
aking over a community building or land is a
substantial commitment and your
organisation should therefore be sure that
your well-intended ideas can stand up to
scrutiny. You may want to undertake a
‘Feasibility Study’. A Feasibility Study is
described as an analysis and evaluation of a
proposed project to determine if it (1) is
technically feasible, (2) is feasible within the
estimated cost. Tips and guidelines can be
found at:
https://www.communityactionderby.org.uk/help-
and-advice/resources
Does your organisation’s ‘business case’
f
or your project stack up?
The work that your organisation does to
build its ‘business case’ will be a key part of
the Community Asset Transfer. Wigan
Council will require all organisations to have
a robust Business Plan in place.
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Your plan should read like a story, building
up a picture of what has and what might be
achieved, backed with hard evidence drawn
from market research and community
consultation. Most importantly your plan
should be developed with the active
involvement of your ‘key stakeholders’ and
should be approved and adopted by your
organisation.
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Your plan should be designed to be:
Short (Normally no more than 20 sides of A4 – 10 pages double-sided).
Focussed and to the point.
Easy to read.
Well presented.
The link below provide you with information and guidance on how to put together a
Business Plan
www.communitymatters.org.uk
Will your proposed community project deliver real benefits to your community?
Wigan Councils’ Deal focusses on three key outcomes - Start Well, Live Well and Age Well
and careful thought should go into your Business Plan to evidence how your
project/activity/service will bring about ‘community benefit’ around these outcomes. For
example, if one of your planned project ‘activities’ is to create a new community café, your
desired ‘outcome’ of that activity may be that ‘local people have somewhere go, socialise and
eat a good value healthy meal’. This would support all 3 of the Deal outcomes. Many projects
fall into the trap of viewing the project activity as the end result, whereas it is the ‘outcome’ of
the activity that is the real community benefit and it is this that needs to be measured and
proven.
Below is an example of how you can measure your outputs and outcomes
Activities
What did you do?
Mother & Toddler
Gym Buddy
sessions
Outputs
What happened as a
direct result of the
activity?
40 Parents and
toddlers attend
twice weekly
exercise based
activities
Outcomes
What longer-term
change has occurred
as a result?
More family ‘leisure
time’ with children
Extra weekly
session to support
demand
Improved
communication
between parent
and child
Impact
What ‘big-picture’
change has
happened?
Improved
parenting skills.
Increased
confidence
amongst parents
and their children
Improved parent
and child health &
wellbeing
Insurance & Licences
You will need to have insurance.
The types of insurance you need may vary
depending on the risks to your organisation ,
but could include:
Public Liability Insurance
Lift Insurance
Employers liability, only if you employ
people
Trustees liability
Building and contents insurance
Vehicle insurance
Any other insurance for specific activities
e.g. if you hold a special event
Equality & Diversity
Equality means ensuring that everyone has
equal opportunity to participate, contribute
to and benefit from the activities undertaken
by your organisation. Diversity goes beyond
fair and equal treatment to recognise and
appreciate the benefits that people’s
different talents bring to an organisation or
community. Society is diverse in many
different ways. Embracing and celebrating
diversity helps create an environment where
everyone feels included and valued.
Things you may want to consider:
How will your organisation, in planning
and managing this asset, actively
eliminate discrimination, advance equality
of opportunity and foster good relations
within the community?
How could you help new groups to form
to meet community needs?
How will the asset and how it is managed
be accessible to all sections of the
community?
How will you encourage the community
to be more cohesive and the asset to be a
focus to enable this to happen?
How can you contribute to making the
community feel safe and promote
understanding of different issues e.g.
young people needing places to meet
and play rather than being perceived as a
nuisance by others?
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Other tips on how to measure outcomes can be found via the links below.
www.communitymatters.org.uk
Section 2.
Community Asset
Transfer Diagnostic
Is your organisation
ready?
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Good governance is a vital part of how
organisations operate and are held
accountable for what they do. It is also
one of the most important
requirements for the transfer of council
assets to the community. Wigan
Council will need evidence of the
sustainability of your organisation at
the full application stage if it is to be
considered for asset transfer.
The Diagnostic has been designed to use as a
self-assessment questionnaire. It helps you
assess your organisations ‘readiness’ for
asset transfer. The questions help you look
at your organisations legal structure, its
governance arrangements and its financial
sustainability. Information from the
Diagnostic can help you to provide evidence
to Wigan Council. Don’t worry if you are
unsure about any of the questions, Douglas
Valley Community are there to offer you
support and assistance throughout the CAT
process. It will work with you on any
questions/issues that need addressing
before you proceed with applying for the
asset. It is important to recognise that
reviewing your organisation is not simply a
tick-box’ exercise. Once you have
completed the diagnostic, you can share it
with Douglas Valley Community and they
will work with you to draw up an action plan
for any items that that need attention.
Things you need to consider:
Do you need to change?
Can you deliver as you currently are?
Do you need to expand?
Do you need new skills or knowledge?
12
Who is the Toolkit for?
Getting started
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W
here possible it is important that this document is completed by a number of
trustees. Please answer all questions as fully as possible, but if you are not sure of
how to respond just leave it blank.
In this diagnostic we use the word trustee to describe the group of people legally responsible
for the organisation. You may call this group of people trustees, management committee
members or another name. The completion of the Diagnostic is not intended to be overly
complex or burdensome, but it will require you to dedicate some time to focusing on the
questions that it raises. Please try and answer all questions as fully as possible, but if you are
not sure of how to respond just leave it blank. Douglas Valley Community are happy to discuss
these questions with you.
Please make a note below of the people who have asked to be involved in completing
this Diagnostic
14
Part 1 Governance
Good governance is a vital part of how third
sector organisations operate and are held
accountable for what they do.
15
1 What is your Legal
Structure:
A Unincorporated
B Incorporated
C Constituted
2 Do all Trustees have a
copy of our constitution and
understand and follow it?
A yes
B no
C not sure
3 We held our last AGM
A within the last 12 months
B more than 12 months ago
4 When do you hold you
trustees meetings
A 0-4 times a year
B 5-10 times a year
C more than 10 times a year
5 Are all your meetings quorate
and run following the rules of
your constitution
A always
B sometimes
C never
Question Your notes and evidence We need help with this
16
Question Your notes and evidence We need help with this
6 We minute all of our
meetings including noting
agreed actions, who will do
the work and by when. We
keep minutes in a safe place
and all trustees get a copy
of the minutes in good time
after the meetings
A always
B sometimes
C never
7 We have written role
descriptions for trustees and
officer roles (chair, secretary,
treasurer) and we
understand our legal duties
as trustees
A yes
B no
C not sure
8 We understand the skills
and knowledge and
experience we need
trustees to have to rum our
organisation well and our
trustees have these skills,
knowledge and experience
A yes
B no
C not sure
9 We recruit and appoint
trustees and trustees retire
following the rules of our
constitution and any other
written rules
A always
B sometimes
C Never
17
Question Your notes and evidence We need help with this
10 We have enough active
people on our trustee
board and we can fill any
trustee vacancies quickly
A always
B sometimes
C never
11 We make appropriate
checks on all new trustees
including asking trustees to
sign a declaration form
confirming they are legally
able to act as trustees, and
DBS (if appropriate)
A yes
B sometimes
C not sure
12 We give each new trustee
an induction pack
including a copy of our
constitution, latest
accounts and reports,
minutes of last 3 trustees
meetings, contact details
of other trustees, latest
business plan/action plan
and any other information
new trustees need to know
A always
B sometimes
C never
13 We manage conflicts of
interest, discuss conflicts
at each trustees meeting
and have written conflicts
of interest policy
A yes
B No
C Not sure
18
Question Your notes and evidence We need help with this
14 We have all relevant Health
& Safety Policies in place to
protect trustees and
building users
A Yes
B No
C Not sure
15 We make all our annual
returns to the Charity
Commission, Companies
House and /or other
relevant regulators on time
and notify of change
including change of trustees
A yes
B no
C not sure
16 We have clear aims and
objectives and all trustees
understand them
A yes
B no
C not sure
17 We have a clear and agreed
vision for our organisation,
work co-operatively to
achieve this and value the
different contributions of
each member
A yes
B no
C not sure
19
Question Your notes and evidence We need help with this
18 We plan our activities and
services to try and meet the
needs of our local
community and have an
annual action plan with a
budget
A always
B sometimes
C never
19 We have a written policy
and systems in place to
manage our money
including managing the risk
of fraud, paying trustee and
volunteer expenses,
managing reserves
A yes
B no
C not sure
21 We regularly receive and
discuss financial information
at trustees meetings and we
all understand the financial
reports
A yes
B no
C not sure
22 We produce examined or
audited annual accounts, an
annual report and report on
our public benefit
A yes
B no
C not sure
20
Question Your notes and evidence We need help with this
23We employ one or more
workers
A yes
B no
C not sure
24We have a written policy and
procedures for recruiting,
inducting, training, supporting
and dismissing volunteers,
written role descriptions for
volunteers and use volunteer
agreements
A yes
B no
C not sure
25
We have up to date
safeguarding children and
adults policies and procedures
and trustees understand their
responsibilities for safeguarding
A yes
B no
C not sure
26We have the following up to
date policies and procedures
A health & safety
B data protection
C equality & diversity
27 We have the right level of
insurance and our insurance
policies are reviewed regularly
A yes we review it every year
B yes we’ve never reviewed it
C no not sure
D not sure
21
22
Part 2 Finance & Funding
When you take over an asset you need to be
aware that you are taking on responsibility for
the building/land including its on-going repairs,
maintenance and management. Evidencing
how your organisation can afford to sustain the
asset is important as you will need to evidence
this as part of the application process.
23
Question Your notes and evidence We need help with this
1 We have a bank account
A Yes
B No
2 We have a system for
handling cash
A Yes
B No
3 We have a system for paying
regular bills
A Yes
B Yes but there are problems
C No
4 We have a system for
recording income &
expenditure
A Yes
B Yes but there are problems
C No
5 We have a budget
A Yes
B No
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Question Your notes and evidence We need help with this
7 We have cash reserves
A None
B Less than £5000
C More than £5000
8 We have a business plan
A Yes, reviewed regularly
B Yes but out of date
C No
9 We have a number of
significant different income
streams (e.g. grants,
membership fees)
A One
B Two to Three
C Four or more
10 What percentage of your
income is at risk (i.e. likely to
be withdrawn, come to an
end) in the next 12 months
A More than 50%
B 20% - 50%
C Less than 20%
11 Currently our income covers
A 100% of our costs
B 70%-100% of our costs
C Less than 70% of our costs
25
Part 3 Managing People
This section is all about staff, and volunteers
who may be in your organisation.
26
Question Your notes and evidence We need help with this
1 Do you employ staff? Will
you need to in the future to
help manage the asset?
A Yes
B No
2 Do you involve volunteers or
hope to?
A Yes
B No
C Not sure
3 Do you have an effective and
fair way of recruiting staff and
volunteers?
A Yes
B No
C Not sure
4 Do you have role
descriptions for volunteers?
A Yes
B No
C Not sure
5 Do you provide an induction,
support and supervision?
Yes
No
6 Do you provide adequate
training for the duties staff/
volunteers have to perform?
Yes
No
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Douglas Valley Community Ltd
Wigan Investment Centre
Waterside Drive
Wigan
WN3 5BA
Tel: 01942 705656
Email: support@dvcommunity.org
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