The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act was given royal assent in summer 2015. Before the different parts of the Act come into force, regulations and statutory guidance have to be produced.
The Scottish Government has been consulting on the guidance and regulations and SCDC has submitted our own responses to the seperate consultations. Our main points are as follows:
- We propose that Community Planning Partnerships (CPPs) are required to develop and publish a Community Participation Plan to accompany the new Local Outcomes Improvement Plan (LOIP).This plan would be developed and carried out in adherence with the revised National Standards for Community Engagement, and also link in with other legislation promoting participation such as the 2013 CLD Regulations. Promoting, supporting and pro-actively seeking the involvement of communities are built into the main parts of the Act. Therefore, the extent to which Community Planning Partnerships involve communities will determine the success of the wider Act.
- Although we welcome the emphasis on tackling inequalities, at times the draft guidance for community planning should be more explicit about this. This will ensure that CPPs, in developing LOIPs, understand that they are required to pro-actively identify the needs of communities with protected characteristics in their area before reflecting these needs in the setting of priorities.
- SCDC's view is that there is a need to consider other parts of the Act in the guidance for community planning. In particular, we recommend that the guidance calls on CPPs to specify in their LOIPs the contribution different partners make to the agreed priorities and, where relevant, which partner takes lead responsibility for a priority. This will help to make it easier for community organisations to make a participation request around an outcome to the appropriate public body.
- We recommend that forms, processes and guidance for participation requests are straightforward, accessible and consistent. This will help to ensure that all community groups who want to can make a participation request.
- Our response emphasises the need to regulate for pro-active promotion of participation requests, including staff training and public awareness raising using a range of formats. Without this, many community organisations and people in communities, particularly in disadvantaged communities, will not be aware of the opportunities presented by participation requests.
- Community organisations should also be supported to make participation requests and to take part in outcome improvement processes. This support should be available throughout the whole process, including before a request has been made. Where possible, support should be local and independent. In particular, support should be targetted at socio-economically disadvantaged communities and communities with identified equality characteristics. Without support in place for these communities, the function of participation requests will be undermined as many communities will not be in such a strong
starting position to contribute effectively to improving outcomes. Moreover, the Act risks perpetuating inequality by restricting opportunities to well-resourced and high-capacity communities.
- As with participation requests, it is vital that well meaning legislation does not exacerbate inequality by restricting new opportunities to advantaged communities. Therefore we propose that all support and material regarding asset transfer, such as registers of available assets, is accessible, clear and widely available.
- For similar reasons, we recommend that a standard form, similar to a home report, is developed for submitting requests for information about available assets. The form would include questions relating to current condition, market value, maintenance costs, energy costs and recovery costs.
- We broadly agree with the draft regulations that community bodies should show they have support from the wider community and how they will fund their proposal in future. It is important to have checks built in that help to ensure those who have less of a voice are not disadvantaged by the legislation.
Download our full responses by clicking on the following links:
Read more on the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act here, where you can also read about SCDC's involvement in wider consultation around the guidance for participation requests.