What is Asset Transfer

Asset transfer is a process to allow a community organisation to take over publicly owned land or buildings, usually at a discounted price, in recognition of the public benefits that the community use will bring. 
This transfer can be facilitated in different ways:
- the transfer of Title for outright ownership
- the use of a long-term lease
- or indeed management agreements.
This process  is often referred to as CAT (Community Asset Transfer).  

In communities across the country local people are concerned about losing locally valued assets and associated services, from inner-city community centres to parks, libraries and town halls. At the same time councils and other public bodies are facing intense financial pressure, resulting in the need to maximise the use of publicly-owned land and buildings, or dispose of them and the associated costs, wherever possible.

Community ownership of assets has been identified as having a role to play in inspiring people, creating opportunities and potentially transforming communities by helping them respond to these challenges by taking even greater control of land and buildings where they live.

Transferring an asset to a suitable community organisation can enable a redundant public building to thrive again or turn a marginal public service in to a viable community service.

Legislation governing Asset Transfer
Over recent years legislation and national policy in Scotland (such as the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 and the joint Scottish Government/ COSLA Community Empowerment Action plan of 2009) has recognised the importance of, and been developed to support, strong, independent and resilient communities - empowered communities.
  • The Local Government in Scotland Act 2003 set out that Scottish Ministers may, by regulations, provide the circumstances by which local authorities can dispose of land at less than best consideration. 
  • Disposal of Land by Local Authorities (Scotland) 2010 Regulations gave discretionary powers to local authorities to dispose of land (and assets) to community organisations at less than best financial consideration without without reference to the Minister, provided a local authority is satisfied that they are achieving “best value” through economic, regeneration, social, environmental or health benefits. The Regulations can be used as an option to transfer assets to community groups without using the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015. 
  • In 2014 additional guidance was added to the Public Finance Manual which clarified and strengthened the process of disposing of public sector land and buildings.
  • In 2015 the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 set out rights for community bodies to seek to acquire rights in in any land and property held by a named public body.