The idea that the Scottish Government might legislate to strengthen the existing rather diffuse and uncertain powers which allow the provision of publicly funded Community Learning and Development services has been under discussion since the publication of ‘Putting Learners at the Centre’ last autumn. As we have just seen, the consultation on a Community Empowerment and Renewal Bill suggests that separate legislation is being considered, and makes it clear that this would cover the provision of community capacity building services.
The Scottish Government has further confirmed this by choosing, when launching the new Strategic Guidance to the press, to place the emphasis on the fact that “legislation for local authorities will be explored … to support the government’s commitment to provide access across the country to crucial services such as youth clubs, parenting classes, English language tuition and groups starting up social enterprises”.
Though discussions are still underway, we understand that any such legislation is likely to be along the lines of a requirement on local authorities to work with partners to assess the need for CLD provision and report on how it is to be met (not a statutory requirement to provide any particular form of service). People involved in community development will want to ensure that, if their work is meant to be included, this is made clear and explicit, and to consider whether the lack of a clear link to the Community Empowerment and Renewal Bill is acceptable.