The Government will be making it much easier for communities to take on community assets, through the community right-to-buy provisions in the localism Bill. Following the spending review statement yesterday, we will shortly be announcing our plans to provide further funding to support communities in exercising that right. Communities can now get advice and practical help from the Government-funded asset transfer unit, and money is available this year through Communitybuilders for business development support and investment capital.
Residents living near the former St James street library in Walthamstow want to be part of the big society by buying the building and turning it into a community centre. The previous Government committed £20 million to an empowerment fund to help local people to make these things happen. Rights and announcements are all very well, but what actual funding can residents in my area expect to be able to bid for, to help to turn the rhetoric surrounding asset management into a reality?
I know that the hon. Lady is a great champion for community facilities. She has had correspondence with me on this matter, and as a Co-operative party MP, she shares our belief that co-operatives have a great deal to offer. Perhaps I should refer to her as my hon. Friend in this context. The big society bank, which was announced by the Chancellor yesterday, will be expressly designed so that part of its purpose will be to make capital available, and I hope that her project will make one of the early applications to it.