Policy update: Empowering Scotland’s communities

SCDC welcomes the Scottish Government's consultation on the proposed Community Empowerment and Renewal Bill.

The proposed Bill seeks to enhance participatory democracy and empower local people through potential legislation to support:

  • Improvements to the engagement between public agencies and the communities they serve;
  • Giving more decision making power to communities;
  • Removing barriers to communities taking control of local assets such as land and buildings; and 
  • Increasing the influence of communities with regard to disused land and buildings.

The Scottish Government states that the consultation does not ask about community capacity building, and notes that this is taken account of in the new Strategic Guidance    for Community Planning Partnerships: Community Learning and Development (see below). 

SCDC welcomes the consultation's emphasis on stripping down barriers to participation and community ownership of assets. We are planning our response to the consultation, which will give support to the broad thrust of the bill, but which will also highlight the importance of including legislation on community capacity building within the Bill itself to ensure that its potential for the empowerment of all communities in Scotland is fully realised.

In addition to working with SCDC's network members on this response, SCDC gives its  full backing to the public conference on the bill being organised by Community Development Alliance Scotland (CDAS) on 28th June in Glasgow. We would also encourage community organisations and/or individuals to submit their own responses.

The Scottish Government has also published new Strategic Guidance on Community Learning and Development for Community Planning Partnerships. Of particular relevance for community development is the emphasis in the guidance on two key areas:

  • Building stronger, more resilient and inclusive communities; and
  • Enhancing local participatory democracy processes to support greater influence of communities over the decisions that affect them

Education Scotland has been hosting discussions on its Engage for Education site with view to how to take the guidance forward. As discussion around the guidance implementation and the forming of any legislation develops, SCDC will focus any contribution on identifying where legislation might be tightened with regard to the duty of Local Authorities to assess the need for the community development focus of CLD provision.

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