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Community Asset Transfers

Volume 495: debated on Wednesday 1 July 2009

The stronger and more sustainable third sector organisations are, the better they can help to build stronger and more resilient communities. To that end, my Department is funding a £30 million community assets programme and we are working with the Big Lottery Fund to refurbish underused buildings in 38 communities across England. We are also working across Government to invest in community assets: for example, the Department for Communities and Local Government has invested in the £70 million Communitybuilders programme.

I thank the Minister for her reply, but will she say what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the Big Lottery Fund in administering the scheme?

The scheme got off to a slow start because the work had to be put in place, but we now have 38 different organisations receiving significant grants from the Big Lottery Fund. Those grants will make a real difference on the ground, and I am pleased with how matters are now progressing.

In my constituency, the local council wants to transfer the assets of community centres to the local community. However, is my right hon. Friend aware that the people running centres such as the Norton community centre do not want the responsibility of taking on contractual and employment liabilities?

My hon. Friend raises an issue that concerns many people. When we talk about community asset transfers, we are talking about the Government putting in money to support organisations and communities. The will to do that has come from the communities themselves. With community asset transfers, the liability is transferred not to the community but to an asset. Local councils must realise that the scheme is funded by the Government for local communities. It must not be forced on local communities, but should be carried out with their co-operation and direction.