Making the Most of Local Authority Assets

Local authorities in London are responsible for managing valuable resources. This report shows how they could use their money and property to deliver social value to their residents.

London’s councils own one-fifth of the land in the city, manage pensions worth £48 billion, and spent almost £13 billion on procurement in 2019. These assets already provide huge value to the city. Some local authorities are investigating how they could use them to have an even bigger impact on their local economy and society.  

We call these policies collectively “community asset approaches”, and in this report we investigate how a local authority can apply them when buying goods and services, managing their property, and how they apply to Local Government Pension Schemes. The aims of local authorities in applying these approaches vary widely depending on local priorities, but commonly aim to increase social value, or outcomes that improve economic, social and environmental wellbeing.  

We found that local authorities benefit from defining local priorities in conversation with local partners and residents and joining up with other local authorities and large institutions to build on what’s worked well elsewhere. 

Key Conclusions

  • Local authorities must define their “social value” priorities in a published document – including how much social value they want to deliver and how they will measure it. This should cover all work related to property, procurement and pensions, including a Community Asset Transfer policy.
  • Local authorities should include delivery of socially valuable outputs when they are scoring tenders for procurement, and should require providers to report regularly on the social value they are adding as set out in their contracts. In addition, local authorities should audit their existing contracts.
  • Local authorities should audit and regularly publish information on the uses of buildings over which they have substantial control, using this data to inform pilots and other actions.
  • The Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities should update guidance governing fiduciary duties for Local Government Pension Schemes.
  • Building on their existing engagement with residents, local authorities need to engage a broad group of local people on their general approach to managing their assets. They should also engage with a smaller group of local people about specific local assets.
  • Local authorities should work with each other and with local anchor institutions to manage assets, with the aim of sharing knowledge, reducing costs and increasing impact. 


This project has been generously supported by