Opinion and Debate

We post our series of policy briefings and discussion papers on current issues and debates in community development on this section of the website. New material will be posted each month and subscribers to our mailing list will receive email updates on this.

Recent postings

SCDC briefing on Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act (September 2015) - This briefing explains the provisions of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act and to set out some of the implications and opportunities they have for community development, community organisations and community planning.

Community Development in Contradictory Times (February 2015) - This briefing paper has been written by Dr. Akwugo Emejulu, University of Edinburgh and Mary Anne MacLeod, University of Glasgow as part of ongoing SCDC and CDAS facilitated discussions about community development in Scotland. The paper provides a critical analysis of asset-based approaches and asset-based community development.

Community Development in a Different Scotland (October 2014) - this briefing highlights how the CLD regulations and guidance are both an opportunity and a challenge for Community Learning and Development (CLD) to be at the forefront of helping to shape the future for Scotland's communities.

Towards Empowerment - SCDC's new briefing on Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill 
(July 2014) The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill has now been introduced to the Scottish Parliament. The Bill provides a framework which aims to empower community bodies through the ownership of land and buildings, strengthen community voices in the decisions that matter to them and improve the process of community planning. SCDC has responded to the publication of the Bill with a briefing, Towards Empowerment, examining how far the legislation goes towards empowering communities, and suggesting where improvements might be made.

Briefing on National Action Plan for Human Rights
(June 2014) This briefing examines Scotland's first National Action Plan for Human Rights (SNAP) which was launched on International Human Rights Day, 10 December 2013.

SCDC considers this a significant step towards helping people and communities exert greater control over their lives and become better able to contribute to Scotland's economic well-being.

The Action Plan places great emphasis upon core concepts such as empowerment which is central to community development. It offers policymakers and practitioners an opportunity to strengthen the case for community development in its own right to be able to contribute to implementing human rights across all aspects of life in Scotland.

SCDC response to Inquiry into the Flexibility and Autonomy of Local Government call for evidence (March 2014) In our resposne to this call for evidence from the Scottish Parliament's Local Government and Regeneration Committee, we argue that a lack of two-way engagement in local government has contributed to democraphic disaffection in Scotland. A strong, constructive relationship between local government and communities can enhance decision making and service delivery, and help to create a healthier democracy more generally.

SCDC submission to Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill consultation (February 2014). Our submission to the Scottish Government's consultation on the draft Communty Empowerment (Scotland) Bill suggests ways to improve the legislation in terms of participation, equality and praticla implimentation.  It also highlights the risk that inequalities may be exacerbated without accompanying community capacity building support for disadvantaged communities.

SCDC Response: Commission on Local Democracy(December 2013) The Commission sought views on strengthening local democracy in Scotland.  Our response includes the argument that strong, active and accountable local organisations have a big part to play in enhancing local democracy, and that these should be given adequate support.

SCDC briefing on Community Empowerment Bill(November 2013). This briefing aimed to raise awareness of the areas of community empowerment the draft Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill seeks to address and to encourage those with an interest in advancing the opportunities for community led action to respond to the consultation process. Our shorter, more accessible, briefing for communities is also available (click here to read).

Creating a culture of thoughtfulness (September 2013).  Early in 2013, SCDC was commissioned by the Scottish Public Health Network (ScotPHN) and the Scottish Directors of Public Health New Ways of Working Group to produce a report on developing a 'culture of thoughtfulness' to support the ‘assets based approach to health improvement' strand of their work. Thhe full report can be found on the ScotPHN website.


SCDC response to Delivery of Regeneration in Scotland Inquiry (15 March 2013).  This is SCDC's consultation response to the Scottish Parliament Local Government and Regeneration Committee's call for evidence on ‘what regeneration means for us'. Our overarching message is that the focus of regeneration activity should be on localities experiencing extreme disadvantage and issues of social justice and inequality.

SCDC Evidence to the Local Government and Regeneration Committee Scrutiny of Draft Budget 2013-14 (October 2012).  In this submission to the Committee's call for evidence, we point to growing recognition that physical regeneration needs to be accompanied by social regeneration, and argue for direct, targeted, intervention to  release the potential, and mobilise and build the capacities and skills that exist within Scotland's most disadvantaged communities.  This, we add, will lead to better outcomes for these communities and prevent negative outcomes and strain on public services in the longer term.

50 Streets - addressing entrenched deprivation through neighbourhood work(May 2012). Originally written as a discussion paper for the Improvement Service, this provides some initial thoughts on the way resources might be assembled to enable focused and co-ordinated work to improve social and community conditions in those small neighbourhood areas that most public services recognise as taking up a disproportionate amount of the time, energy and resources at their disposal.

Proposed Community Empowerment and Renewal Bill: some things to think about (August 2012). This paper is a result of initial discussions to inform SCDC's response to the proposed Bill.

Community Empowerment in Action: Making it happen, making it work (April 2012).  This briefing draws on SCDC experience of work with communities across Scotland over the past ten years to highlight the importance of work to help strengthen the effectiveness of community groups and organisations and to to show how community capacity building work links with current policy agendas.

SCDC Response to the Development of Refreshed Strategic Guidance on CLD (March 2012). This paper sets SCDC's response to the consultation on the development of refreshed strategic guidance for Community Learningand Development (CLD) March 2012. It responds directly to the questions set out in theconsultation survey.

SCDC Consultation response 2011 / 10 - SCDC submission to Local Government and Regeneration Committee on the Spending Review 2011 and Draft Budget 2012-13. In our submission we make the case that, in its taking forward of the Christie Commission recommendations, the Scottish Government should prioritise Scotland's most disadvantaged communities and support capacity building and other community development approaches in these communities.

Doing with, not to: Community Resilience and Co-production (July 2011) - the report resulting from research commissioned by NHS Education Scotland and carried out by SCDC into community resilience and co-production.  The research revolved around a practice exchange event in May 2011 involving Scottish projects carrying out work in the fields of community resilience and co-production, service providers, policy planners and others interested in sharing information.  The report explores the connections between community resilience and co-production and also offers helpful definitions for these ideas and other related terms. 

SCDC Consultation response 2011 / 06 - SCDC Response to the Scottish Government Regeneration Discussion Paper. The SCDC is pleased to have the opportunity to respond to Building A Sustainable Future: Regeneration Discussion Paper. In particular, the SCDC welcomes the focus on community led regeneration contained in the discussion paper and the increase in emphasis of the inclusion of communities themselves in building a stronger, more equal and more sustainable Scotland.

SCDC Briefing Paper 2011 / 06 - Commitments to community development made by the newly re-elected SNP Government in its 2011 election manifesto. The 2011 Scottish Parliament Elections saw a sea change in the Scottish political landscape with a majority Scottish National Party administration being elected for the first time. Based on the 2011 SNP election manifesto, we investigate what this might mean for community development, community-led health and regeneration and community engagement in Scotland. 

Community Resilience and Co-production: Getting to grips with the language (March 2011) - This SCDC briefing paper offers a working definition of a range of terms gaining currency in debates relevant to community development, and raises some questions for discussion.

SCDC Discussion Paper 2011 / 01 - ‘Delivering sustainable outcomes with less money' looks at the likely impact of public expenditure cuts on local communities and presents the case for reconfiguring the relationship between communities and public services through co-production and community capacity building.

SCDC Discussion paper 2011 / 02 - 'Community Development and Co-production - issues for policy and practice' looks at a concept which has emerged in recent years as an innovative and valuable approach to the provision and development of public services.

SCDC Policy Briefing 2011 / 01 - ‘Making the most of our communities: Using an asset model to tackle poverty and improve health' provides a summary of the Scottish Government discussion paper on tackling child poverty and the Annual Report of the Chief Medical Officer, referring particularly to the asset model of change evident in both reports. Also available is 'Assets in Action', a related case study of the asset-based approach in practice.

The Community Development Foundation has just published a discussion paper on the potential for sharing information and ideas across the administrations in Britain and Ireland. The paper was prepared by SCDC. Comments and responses are welcome and should be sent to Andrew Paterson at SCDC (andrew@scdc.org.uk