Read the guidance
The Scottish Government guidance is vital reading when preparing your asset transfer request. Chapters eight, ten and thirteen have the most relevant information.
- Chapter eight tells you what you must include and how to make an ATR.
- Chapter ten tells you about the decision making process and the things the public body will take into account.
- Chapter thirteen tells you how the public body assesses the request and the criteria they will use to determine whether your ATR is successful.
- Some public bodies have their own guidance which may have additional information you should also consider.
- Many public bodies will use a Scoring Matrix to determine ATRs. Ask the public body for a copy of the template, so you can ensure you are covering all the areas you will be scored on.
Gather as much information as you can
The viability of your project is often dependent on knowing as much about the asset as possible prior to submitting an ATR. Getting this information early will save any nasty surprises later in the process.
- Ask the public body for information on the running costs of the asset – utilities, rates, insurance etc.
- Request to see any surveys, condition reports or maintenance schedules so you can determine the likely costs of renovations or future repairs.
- Ask for information on any access rights or legal burdens attached to the asset.
Outline a clear vision
Ensure that the reader of the ATR is made aware of what you hope to achieve as early as possible.
- The first part of your project proposal should set-out a clear vision for the project.
- In one or two paragraphs, outline a succinct statement of the impact you will have on your community.
Think about your audience
The Asset Transfer Request will be used to inform a report which is likely to make a recommendation on whether to approve your ATR.
- Think about the things that are important to the officers writing the report and the various departments within the organisation who will have an interest – Property, Legal, Finance, Community. Try to anticipate the questions they will have and have answers available in your ATR.
- If it goes to a committee of councillors or an independent board, what are their priorities and concerns likely to be and how can your project address them?
It is important to see your asset transfer as part of a broader strategy, both locally and nationally. You should show how it fits in with local plans and the work of other organisations. This doesn’t mean changing what you plan to do, just showing how it contributes to already established plans.
- Always link the benefits you are going to deliver with priorities for public bodies (especially the one your ATR request goes to!) – look at local plans, other strategies, and the National Performance Framework.
- Look at any sector specific plans i.e. if your project involves sport, how does it link in with national strategies for sport. If there are objectives in these strategies that you contribute towards, be explicit in saying so.
Don’t sell yourself short
Include everything that is relevant in the form, you can’t expect the public body to know about something you haven’t included.
- Public bodies want reassurance that the project will be successful, so don’t be shy about highlighting your achievements so far and the skills and experience in your organisation. If you are a newly established organisation, then focus on your board/steering group and the skills they bring from their personal and professional lives.
- Describe your governance arrangements in detail and mechanisms you have in place to ensure accountability. If you haven’t got systems in place yet, describe how and when you will do so.
Make a plan
It is important to say in a reasonable level of detail what you want to achieve, and how you will get there.
- Use SMART objectives when describing what your aims are – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timebound
- Include a project plan with a timeline, key stages and the activities you will undertake.
- Ensure your plan fits with the timescales for the Asset Transfer process and funders deadlines.
- Make sure you’ve considered all the resources you will need for the project – technical help, financial resources, volunteer time.
Don’t ignore the negative consequences
All projects have negative aspects, risks or challenges. If you ignore them in your ATR, it suggests you haven’t considered the project carefully enough.
- Show you’ve identified and assessed any risks and then say how you will reduce their impacts.
- Outline any negative consequences and be honest about who will be affected. Show that you have considered those affected and any actions you will take which may lessen those impacts.
Focus on the benefits
The benefits you will deliver in your community are essential to the success of your ATR. Particularly if you are seeking a discount from the public body, as you will need to justify that discount through the benefits you will deliver.
- Calculate and outline financial benefits to the public body where possible – this could be in the form of direct financial savings (reduced operating costs) through to more indirect savings from the impacts you will have – reduced pressure on their services.
- Calculating the financial contribution made by your volunteers is a straightforward way of showing financial benefits – volunteer hours per year * Living Wage.
- Capture all the benefits your project will deliver – think carefully about the activities you are planning and what the full impact of those will be on the community. i.e. if you are running a lunch club for older people - it will have impact on reducing isolation, improving mental health, improving physical health and will save the public sector money by reducing pressure on the NHS and council care services.
Gather political support
A well-written ATR is important, but if you have community councillors, councillors, MSPs, MPs, civil servants and local leaders behind your ATR, it stands a far greater chance of success. Calling, writing to and briefing politicians and officers will increase the support for your request and get people lobbying on your behalf.