Cornerstone Blog: Solving the capital conundrum

CCN Blogs | 20 June 2017

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How to solve the capital conundrum? We all know full well that local government faces continued pressure on local services: housing, healthcare, homes for the elderly, school places: the list goes on. And each with a hefty price tag attached.

At the same time, we know that there are considerable surplus assets in the public estate: one latest count put this figure at circa 7bn worth of property and land that has essentially been mothballed. Not only do these assets sit empty whilst local needs increase, but councils and public authorities also have to spend revenue they can ill afford on maintaining them.

Necessity being the mother of invention, there are now innovative asset management models emerging which leverage the value of these assets, and use that value to address the shortage in public services. Development deals are being struck by councils across the land to release the value of these assets, and putting this to better use: reimagining, for example, the footprint of a large comprehensive school to create locally needed housing and to refurbish and renew the school.

Local government has always been more imaginative and more agile than central government in solving challenging service delivery issues. Many have argued we find ourselves in the perfect storm today, but the solution is also in our gift. It just requires us to think a little differently about how we manage our assets and how we draw on the value to deliver services that our communities want and need, be this new homes, new school places, or additional community facilities.

Tim Byles is Chief Executive of Cornerstone Assets. To find out more, visit