Headlines: February 10th, 2011

Councils are to get freedom to sell, rent or share community owned assets bought with central government money, such as council buildings, shops and business parks. The ‘clawback rights’ restriction which stopped community and voluntary groups selling or changing the use of community land or buildings that were funded by government grant programmes is to be removed.

The end of ‘clawback rights’ removes a barrier imposed on local communities by central government. Communities will now be free to use their assets as security to obtain loans to sustain or expand their activities. If an asset is too expensive or no longer fit for purpose they will be able to sell it and move to more appropriate premises that better meets the needs of local people.

The change will limit the risk of community owned assets remaining stagnant and potentially unused when the land or building could be serving the community. This will give greater freedom and flexibility for assets to be used in a way that best meets the area’s changing needs.

Councils, voluntary groups and social enterprises have also been invited to let Ministers know of other historic grant programmes where clawback rights have been applied in perpetuity preventing communities from making best use of their assets so that the government can consider whether the terms should be changed too.

The consultations will run for 12 weeks, taking views from people, councils and their employees, community groups, voluntary organisations, private businesses and other interested parties.