#Community Asset Transfer: Moving away from the ‘poor mouth’ paradigm of community politics?

Regarding our ongoing series on Community Asset Transfer one focus for distrust has been the sense that most such projects will continue to rely to a greater or lesser extent on grant aid or delivering public services.

Niamh Goggin from the independently funded Charity Bank says that there is a change implied from what’s been almost a generation of dependency on grant aid. We’re moving, she says, from ‘putting on the poor mouth’ to ‘let’s do the show right here’.

But there are a number of residual problems from the past. A lot of organisations – particularly if they have been relying on grant aid are crippled with weak balance sheets. If they were ever prudent with their money and resources they were punished for it. Any money saved or income generated would be taken from them.

She also points out that if you give out free money why should the community sector be blamed for a system that rewards unproductive processes?

She says that quality controls are critical if community organisations are to bring in social finance lenders, because such lenders have a vested interest in making sure that the social enterprise survives.

Nigel McKinney of Building Change Trust points out that there are some lazy assumptions be made on foot of the more high profile community work being done with former paramilitaries that that in no characterises the many different jobs created by the community sector.

In the past he says there was a large focus on community engagement by demography. In the past we only gave lip service to sustainability. In the past ‘we continue the work by seeking further government funding’ and that was as sustainability. Capturing and keeping

Goggin says that there ought be more of an outputs led government, a move to a ‘this is what I want to buy, do you want to sell it to me’ paradigm.

However there are still some organisations which are 90% public funded… Such groups will remain vulnerable… But the more entrepreneurial community organisation will look to diversify.

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  • melegis

    Community asset transfer where it has succeeded in the UK has done so due in part to peer exchange and organisations that have done it sharing with those that would like to.

    This is not a panacea, it will not solve the ills of all commnunities but it does form an important part of the toolkit available to communities to look at their unique situation and examine options. DTNI (Development Trusts Northern Ireland) is leading this campaign and can offer the most important component of asset transfer i.e. talk to people who have done it and meet people who are doing it.