Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act
1. The asset transfer provisions of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 came into force 23 January 2017. From this date a properly constituted community group has the right to apply to a public body to request a transfer of any land or buildings that it owns.
All the guidance, model forms and other useful stuff is available on the Scottish Government website. This includes a new summary guide in simple language. The website will continue to be developed over coming weeks, in particular with model governing documents for community transfer bodies.
2. The Scottish Government has published a series of documents related to the community planning part of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act.
The finalised Guidance adds more detail to the statutory provisions. Part 1 of this guidance sets out a strategic overview of what effective community planning should achieve. It explains the purpose of community planning and what difference effective community planning can and should make to improving outcomes and reducing inequality. Part 2 provides additional supporting detail about what the principles of effective community planning include. It also contains specific guidance to assist CPPs develop both their Local Outcome Improvement Plan and locality plan(s). CPPs will be expected to publish these plans by 1 October 2017.
Along with this the government has published a locality planning regulation, which describes the localities into which CPPs must divide local authority areas for the purpose of carrying out locality planning.
Local Democracy Bill
The Development Trusts Association Scotland (DTAS) reports that its Board recently discussed the SNP manifesto commitment to ‘introduce a Bill that will decentralise local authority functions, budgets and democratic oversight to local communities’; and that it then met with the Bill Team in Scottish Government to contribute some initial ideas into the development of the draft Bill. It plans to meet government again in February to discuss the emerging ideas for the Bill. DTAS asks its members for thoughts on which local authority functions or budgets they would like to see devolved, so that it can feed these suggestions into the Bill development process.
Consultation on the Future of the Scottish Planning System
The Scottish Government has set out 20 proposals for changing the planning system and launched a public consultation that runs until 4 April 2017, as a step towards a new planning bill, to be brought forward this year. This follows an independent review of the existing system.
A brief article from SURF provides a useful overview of the key proposals in the consultation. The report proposes a new right for community bodies to create their own ‘place plans’ which would set out what changes they will help deliver, based on wider community consultation.
It is also proposed that during the development plan preparation process Local Authorities should be legally required to consult community councils as well as use engagement methods more likely to involve children and young people. Research is also being undertaken to inform action on including other ‘hard to reach’ groups in planning.
Other changes include zoning more land for housing, promoting self-build and removing the need to apply for planning permission for more types of development.
Land rights and responsibilities statement
The Scottish Government’s proposed ‘land rights and responsibilities statement’ is out for consultation until10th March. The statement defines six important principles – the first of which says “….ownership, management and use of land should contribute to the collective benefit of the people of Scotland”.
Scottish Government evaluation of Voluntary Action Scotland
An independent evaluation of Voluntary Action Scotland, the national network supporting Third Sector Interfaces (TSIs), by APS Group Scotland (led by Blake Stevenson) has been published by the Scottish Government. The evaluation highlights weaknesses in the effectiveness of VAS, but concludes that the TSI network requires an intermediary body and that the Scottish Government should continue to support VAS, with new partnership agreements and the continuation of recent changes in its governance.
Responses to the report have been widely differing. A story in Third Force News (TFN) (published by SCVO, who used to perform similar functions to VAS) describes it as ‘damning’ and its headline reports that an ‘official report’ ‘slams’ VAS. In response Senscot has described that TFN story as “a completely unbalanced piece – full of unattributed accusations” and says the report “is much more balanced”. (TFN has since amended the story to make it clear the report was commissioned, not written, by the Scottish Government).
Acting VAS chief executive Allan Johnstone said the recommendations would “form part of the discussions in taking VAS forward in 2017 ... the report doesn’t acknowledge a lot of the work we’ve done in terms of the organisational side. In the last 18 months we've done a lot of work ... We have updated finance, staffing, governance”. A Scottish Government spokesman told TFN “Over the next six months, we will hold a number of stakeholder events and discussions to examine how our local third sector infrastructure is organised and how it can be improved. Following this wider engagement, we will draw together recommendations for improvement to be implemented from 2018/19 onwards.”
Draft Climate Change Plan
The Scottish Government’s draft Climate Change Plan has been published. The Parliament’s Local Government and Communities Committee, in collaboration with three other Committees, has launched a call for views on the draft Plan by Friday 10 February 2017. The Committee is focusing its scrutiny on local government, planning and housing and so would welcome views from interested parties on those issues contained within the draft Plan.
Future Governance of the CLD Standards Council: Consultation
The CLD Standards Council (Scotland) was established in 2008 by Scottish Government Ministers as the professional body with responsibility for setting standards in Community Learning and Development. It was assigned to Education Scotland as host agency, but is recognised separately on the basis that it should be one step removed from government. From the beginning, it has been the ambition of those involved to find a practical means of organisational development. The Standards Council has now agreed on a proposal for the way forward. The key features of this are:
- The CLD Standards Council registering as a company limited by guarantee
- A Board of Directors, with the majority elected by and from the registered members
- The Board of Directors taking responsibility for the direction of the organisation within the remit agreed with the Scottish Government.
- The Standards Council, including the staff team of civil servants, to continue to work closely with Education Scotland and the wider Scottish Government.
They are seeking views, by Friday 3rd February 2017, on the draft memorandum and articles of association of the new company.
Grameen in the UK provides micro-credit loans of up to £1,000 to kick-start small firms or help existing companies develop and grow. Based in Glasgow, the organisation has now secured additional investment of £250,000 from Social Investment Scotland to provide micro-finance loans to community initiatives. Grameen in the UK is part of the Grameen Foundation, a worldwide network of social development lenders founded by Nobel Peace Prize winner Professor Muhammad Yunus.
Aspiring Communities Fund
The Scottish Government, supported by the European Social Fund (ESF), has launched a £18.9 million Aspiring Communities Fund to support the most disadvantaged communities across Scotland to tackle poverty and inequality. This challenge fund is expected to run from January 2017 to December 2018. The aim of this funding is to strengthen communities, increase levels of economic activity, stimulate inclusive growth, and support local service provision and inclusion by:
- Enabling communities to design and establish new or enhanced services addressing poverty and inequalities;
- Supporting new staff posts within community organisations to increase levels of economic activity, local service provision and inclusion, and enhance community resilience; and
- Accelerating the implementation of projects and services delivering longer lasting community-led solutions.
The fund will be open to applications from community bodies, including community anchor organisations, third sector and other community organisations that are established to promote or improve the interests of communities in an area. A requirement for applicants to clearly demonstrate alignment with local authority and Community Planning Partnership plans will be fundamental.
The Scottish Government will be holding several stakeholder events in a number of locations throughout Scotland in February 2017 to provide further information to coincide with launch of the fund. The dates and venues for these events will be published on the Scottish Government website.
Social Innovation Fund
More new European funding programmes have been launched by Scottish Government’s Third Sector Unit. The £9.7m Social Economy Development Programme is comprised of the Social Economy Growth Fund and the Social Innovation Challenge Fund. The closing date for the first round of applications is 17th February. The Social Innovation Fund enables social economy organisations to work in collaboration with research institutions, the public and private sector to develop, test and scale up new ideas and solutions to tackle poverty and disadvantage. It supports a pipeline of projects following a three stage approach to social innovation.
Second phase of Dementia Friendly Communities Funding
In 2015, the Life Changes Trust invested £3.4 million in ‘dementia friendly communities’ across Scotland. The difference they can make to the lives of people with dementia and their carers is enormous. They challenge stereotypes, raise awareness and look beyond the dementia to see the person. They ensure that people remain connected to their communities, and reduce isolation and loneliness. The Trust has decided to invest a further £2 million in such communities and is now open for online applications.
Professional Practice Placement in Community Learning and Development
The first version of the CLD Standards Council’s Guidelines for Professional Practice Placement in CLD is being sent to the CLD field. Comments by 27 January 2017, please.
A Scottish Index of Multiple Assets and Aspirations?
Regeneration forum SURF has produced a proposal for a Scottish Index of Multiple Assets and Aspirations (SIMAA). People living and working in their Alliance for Action programme areas were concerned that Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation data was being used to negatively label communities as continuously multi-deprived – while ignoring positive changes. SURF has responded with a proposal which will enable communities to present the positive aspects of their lives. SURF will run SIMAA on a pilot basis in Alliance for Action areas in 2017