This report presented findings from an evaluation of Part 5 of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015. The report focused on addressing four key questions to understand the impact of Part 5 of the Act and the ways in which it has been implemented by relevant authorities and used at local level. Specifically, the report outlined asset transfer request activity and trends, reported on the implementation of asset transfer requests, detailed findings related to intermediary outcomes of Part 5 of the Act and outlined evidence pertaining to longer-term outcomes of Part 5 of the Act.
Overall, the evaluation found that Part 5 of the Act is being implemented as intended across Scotland. Further action is required to support relevant authority and community transfer bodies to maximise the potential of asset transfer requests to generate the intended positive intermediate and longer-term outcomes. Specifically, further work is required to raise awareness of asset transfer requests, develop transparent timelines and enable a culture change within relevant authorities. Relevant authority culture and resistance may represent a considerable barrier in relation to wider participation. There are also indications that asset transfer requests may contribute to improved services matched to local needs although the potential of this will be better understood over a longer period of time.
There are some indications that asset transfer requests may enable increased community cohesion and capacity building within communities. Further, there is evidence that communities experience increased obligation related to assets, post-transfer. The outcome of this obligation can be both positive (in terms of caring for an asset which generates benefit) or negative (if the asset becomes burdensome). There are some early indications that asset transfer requests may contribute to improved services that better meet local needs. However, the potential of this will be better understood over a longer period of time.
The evaluation also highlighted that, in order to better enable disadvantaged communities to engage with the asset transfer request process in pursuit of positive change, better support should be provided for community transfer bodies. A focus should be placed on providing support and capacity to help community transfer bodies navigate the asset transfer request process.
It is too early to assess the longer-term impacts of asset transfer requests in terms of increased community empowerment and reduced inequality of outcome. Nevertheless, the evaluation suggests that asset transfer requests can help to address inequalities and may support communities to deliver better and more appropriate services. To ensure that this happens, a more strategic approach may be necessary. This would require consideration of the specific ways asset transfer requests might be used effectively to address inequalities and the development of targeted support in line with our recommendations and the Scottish Government Guidance on asset transfer requests (2017).