SCDC response to Community Empowerment and Renewal Bill Consultation
SCDC has submitted its response to the Scottish Government's Consultation on the Community Empowerment and Renewal Bill. The consultation was launched in June asking for views on matters ranging from community engagement to community control of physical assets. Our response was based on SCDC's experience in this area in addition to the findings from a survey of 67 VOiCE (Visioning Outcomes in Community Engagement) users. The main points of our submission are as follows:
- Community Planning will engage with communities more effectively if there is greater devolution to micro local level, and if communities with weaker infrastructure are supported to build their own capacity to engage in shared decision making, shared action and independent action.
- An overarching duty, with accompanying guidance, should be placed on the public sector to engage with communities, as well as to locally led organisations who establish themselves as community ‘anchors' or who are mandated to represent the views of the wider community.
- There should be a duty on the public sector to produce a community engagement plan, as well as a requirement that this plan is underpinned by the principles stated within the National Standards for Community Engagement.
- There should be a single, identifiable agency for community development within local government, which would assist in the co-ordination of engagement activities, skills development, and whole systems planning and evaluation of engagement and participation processes.
- Communities should have core involvement in how local budgets are spent, backed up by processes to ensure that decisions are accountable to the whole community and that equalities and inclusion principles are observed.
- Where communities can make better use of public assets, and have the capacity and accountability to do so, the legislation should contain duties which will ease asset transfer. In addition, duties should be in place to ensure community assets benefit the wider community, and that public sector bodies divesting themselves of assets support communities to use/run them effectively.
- More generally, reference to "the community" within any legislation should take proper account of issues of representation, accountability and equalities.
Furthermore, SCDC highlights that community empowerment cannot succeed unless there is a clear role for community capacity building in the legislative framework.