It should be made easier for communities to manage important local assets, according to a Senedd report.
Venues like community centres, libraries and pubs are vital for wellbeing and accessing services.
But the Local Government and Housing Committee heard groups across Wales describe a number of obstacles, including the lack of statutory rights, accessing funding and getting the right support from local authorities.
It is now asking the Welsh Government to establish a commission to find answers to those problems.
Committee Chair, John Griffiths MS, said:
“We can be proud of the great enthusiasm shown across Wales for running important local assets. However, running a venture for the benefit of the community is not an easy task.
“We met with a number of community groups to hear of their first hand experiences. Their evidence helped us understand the benefits of community ownership, but also some of the challenges and barriers they face.
“Each group will need different support depending on their circumstances - but we want everyone to have the opportunity to take forward community asset projects because of the overwhelming evidence that community-run services or assets can bring substantial benefits.
“That is why we need to make it easier for local groups to get involved in running the assets that are at the heart of their communities. We have made a series of recommendations which we think will help achieve that.”
After public consultation and hearing evidence from key stakeholders, the report sets out 16 recommendations, starting with asking the Welsh Government to establish a commission to continue this work.
That commission should then explore potential legislative changes, better access to funding or affordable loans for community groups and support for those groups to compete against private investors when assets become available.
Cwmpas, which has researched community ownership of assets and land, was among the stakeholders that gave evidence at a hearing.
Casey Edwards, Community-led Housing Advisor at Cwmpas, said:
“The benefits of community assets range from improving community cohesion to providing employment, skills and training opportunities, to better health and well-being.
“Community initiatives have that social value at the heart of everything that they do; it's not an added extra, it's not a nice-to-have, they live and breathe social value.
“And the reason that the majority of these community initiatives were set up in the first place was to benefit the wider community. That is their first aim - it's not a profit-making exercise.”
The committee recommends the commission on community ownership of land and assets be established within 12 months of the publication of this report.