Jane Edwards Community Asset Transfer in Birmingham

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Jane’s remit is to work with third sector organisations in a role that engages with each of Birmingham’s ten constituencies, Birmingham Property Services and Legal Services. She shares her thoughts on the progress of the Asset Transfer Development Programme:

The scope of the development programme

  • it was apparent that Birmingham City Council needed a simplified and clear model for Asset Transfer
  • Birmingham City Council was one of the first Local Authorities to work with the Development Trust Association and act as a catalyst to work at how the process might be changed
  • Birmingham didn’t just look at the transfer of a single building but the whole policy and procedure of Community Asset Transfer

Agreeing a lease and reducing costs

  • it is crucial for organisations to get around a table (preferably with their lawyers as part of the conversation) from the outset to agree terms
  • by carefully agreeing and drafting detailed Heads of Terms, the time and cost associated with drafting a lease can be greatly reduced

What is “measuring value”?

  • Birmingham City Council is bound to charge market rent for property. Currently this is offset by grant but can only be agreed on an annual basis
  • As part of the programme, the Council have developed a tool to appropriately assess the ‘added value’ of an organisation against local and national objectives which is then offset against the market rent
  • ‘valuing worth’ assessments can assist organisations in applying for external funding

Advice for similar projects

  • Consultation – speaking to people is crucial. Speak to as many stakeholders as possible, as widely as possible, from the very start
  • Building trust and working together is so important to achieve much better outcomes for everyone
  • Third sector organisations are very savvy and have great capacity to achieve high quality work especially working with public and private organisations which have very different structures

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