The Scottish Parliament Local Government and Communities Committee has recently reviewed the implementation of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015, which included consultation with a range of community and voluntary sector groups. The key findings are summarised below.
The Local Government and Communities Committee has criticised the implementation of the 2015 Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act saying that not enough has been done to empower people from deprived backgrounds to take action in their communities. They reflected on the impact of two key areas of the act aimed at empowering communities: participation and asset transfer requests. They concluded there is clearly work to be done in raising awareness of both, particularly in disadvantaged areas. The Committee say a lack of resources and support at grassroots level is hindering progress in empowering communities, with the Scottish Household Survey revealing only 18% of Scots feel they can influence decisions affecting their local area. They say more must be done to identify how to overcome barriers to engagement and have called on the Scottish Government to work with public bodies and COSLA to help communities use their rights to challenge and influence decisions and services.
The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 is landmark legislation passed during the last Parliamentary session. It seeks to encourage and promote community participation and engagement in local decision-making, by enshrining it as a right in law in a variety of different situations. The Local Government and Communities Committee conducted post-legislative scrutiny informed by an extensive period of online and in person engagement with people across Scotland on what makes good community wellbeing. The overwhelming message was that people wanted to have more say and influence over the services and amenities provided in their local areas, highlighting that community wellbeing goes hand in hand with community empowerment.