The Scottish Government has published ‘Near Final Guidance’ on Part 2 of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act (which imposes duties on community planning partnerships and community planning partners about the planning and delivery of improved local outcomes, and the involvement of community bodies at all stages of community planning).
Among the main principles that the Guidance states are:
- “The Community Planning Partnership and community planning partners work with community bodies to ensure that all bodies which can contribute to community planning are able to do so in an effective way and to the extent that they wish to do so” and that
- “The CPP should build the capacity of communities, particularly those experiencing inequality, to enable those communities, both geographic and of interest, to identify their own needs and opportunities; and support their efforts to participate effectively in community planning, including in the co – production of services”.
The guidance states that “statutory community planning partners must contribute such funds, staff and other resources as the CPP considers appropriate to secure participation of community bodies in community planning.”
These points are further elaborated in the more detailed sections:
- “Securing participation from communities requires commitment from the CPP and partners to strengthen the capacity of community bodies, wherever this is needed to build effective community involvement in decision-making, policy development and service provision. Community capacity building is especially important to secure the participation of those sections of the community which are otherwise less engaged than other sections in community planning. This includes in particular community bodies which represent the interests of persons who experience inequalities of outcome which result from socio – economic or other disadvantage.”
- “Local needs, circumstances and opportunities … are likely to be complex and constantly evolving, and so the CPP and its community planning partners will need to maintain ongoing engagement with community bodies”
- “Also important [for ‘understanding of local communities’ needs, circumstances and opportunities’] is evidence from communities themselves. The CPP must use engagement with communities (including the business and third sectors) to establish their perspectives; both of needs and opportunities within the area and how they differ for particular sections of the community. Strong and up-to-date evidence as a result of community engagement and participation is powerful in shaping decision making that improves outcomes and tackles inequalities. The refreshed National Standards for Community Engagement will set out best practice guidance for engagement and participation between communities and agencies delivering public services. ”
A community role in monitoring and improving performance is also emphasised.
We think that one thing that this implies (perhaps not fully stated) is the need for planning partners not only to strengthen existing ‘community bodies’ but to develop and support communities so that they can come together and get organised to respond when required.
In terms of overall purposes “Community planning is not expected to be a place from where all public sector activity for a local area is co-ordinated and steered. Its focus should be on where the collective efforts of community planning partners and communities can add most value in improving local outcomes and tackling inequalities …” The guidance emphasises the need for a ‘focus on prevention’.
“CPPs should recognise the role that communities can perform in primary prevention. Their input, based on their understanding of local needs, circumstances and opportunities, can help focus public sector resource to where it has greatest preventative benefit. Communities can also provide an important part of the response, through co- production of local preventative activity”
The draft Regulation published along with the Guidance describes the localities into which community planning partnerships must divide local authority areas for the purpose of carrying out locality planning
“A locality must be (a) an electoral ward; or (b) a geographic area with a population which does not exceed 30,000. “ (The guidance suggests no more than 10,000)
We suspect that in most areas the use of electoral wards might be contrary to the Guidance, which states “the CPP can determine locality boundaries for itself, provided it does so in a way which ensures that the locality area constitutes a natural community.”