Always look a gift horse in the mouth: community organisations controlling assets

The idea of community-based organisations (CBOs) owning or managing physical assets, such as land or buildings, has a long history in many countries. This paper examines policy and practice in the UK where there has been significant interest in this field. A variety of benefits have been attributed to the role of assets including motivating community engagement, providing a vehicle for outsourcing public services, or creating financially sustainable organisations. The empirical research reveals there is a heterogeneous set of CBOs holding assets, but the majority of them are small with few paid staff. The analysis proposes a spectrum of CBO types in the field. It concludes that policy makers will need to recognise that these types are informed by contrasting traditions, ideas and operating logics that affect their different practices and resource dependencies.

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