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Community Development Alliance Scotland

Review of manifestos




For practical reasons we have confined this review to the three parties with the current highest opinion poll shares: Conservative, Labour and SNP. SURF has provided shorter extracts of regeneration –related pledges from seven parties, which covers some of the same issues and may be helpful: http://www.scotregen.co.uk/2016-party-manifestos-regeneration/

People involved in community development are interested in a wide range of the issues covered by the manifestos, for example poverty and welfare, health improvement and educational attainment. We have concentrated here on a rather narrower range of topics, similar to those that we cover in most detail in CDAS information bulletins, particularly issues relating to community engagement and empowerment, service user involvement and democratic participation at community and local levels. The selections made are entirely our own. There is little if anything in any of these manifestos about a specific role for community development work.

Our selections from the SNP manifesto are a little more extensive than those from the other two. This may or may not reflect actual differences in focus. But since external opinion almost universally predicts another SNP administration, these promises may have particular significance in providing an indication of some of its likely priorities. It seems reasonable to suppose that former Ministers have had a hand in providing some of the detail for the SNP manifesto.

Peter Taylor

Community Development Alliance Scotland

28 April 2016

Scottish Conservatives Manifesto Link

  • “We support community empowerment – in fact much of the Community Empowerment Act 2015 is based on UK Government localism legislation … a Community Right to Challenge should be introduced in Scotland too. This would give community and voluntary bodies the right to express interest in taking over a specific council-run service. The local authority in question would be required to respond to this challenge and unless there are reasonable grounds for refusal the council would have to run a procurement exercise where the services would be opened up to bids.
  • Back a full review of the national police force to ensure it is fully accountable to rural communities.
  • Seeking “balance” in land reform legislation by continuing “to stand up against measures that undermine individual property rights”… Concerned that Land Reform Act proposals prioritise community ownership over good land management. … Community buyouts are not the only form of land use, sometimes long leases are preferable to communities as well as landowners. Support opening the Scottish Land Fund to long lease funding for communities.
  • “We should be moving towards a “no decision about me without me” approach throughout our health care system. This would require developing procedures that see patients and clinicians working together, with much more weight given to patients’ own experience of their illness and allowing them to co-decide on the location of or type of their treatment.”
  • “We remain of the view that if there is demand, schools should not be prevented from operating outside of Local Authority control. But we also believe that, within the present model, there is still huge scope for progress … giving schools and school leaders real decision-making powers and the freedom to express their individual values, ethos and character”.
  • “Look to support social enterprises through increased awareness and publicity, through a new apprenticeship framework and helping incorporation into local supply chains”
  • Creation of a South of Scotland Enterprise agency to replicate the social role of Highlands & Islands Enterprise
  • [Referring to onshore wind developments] If a major development application decision is taken in line with the Strategic and Local Development Plan the appeal should be decided in a full council meeting, as opposed to being referred to Scottish Ministers. This has to go hand in hand with a better consultation process during the drawing up of Strategic and Local Development Plans.
  • The funding for community transport is patchy and inconsistent at best, with a comprehensive national strategy absent – this needs to change.

Scottish Labour Party Manifesto Link

  • Empower local communities to take over assets and run them as co-operatives, building on the work of so many community development trusts.
  • Devolve new powers to local government. This will give councils the ability to raise an additional £150 million in revenue for local services. These powers include a Tourist Tax, a Land Value Tax on vacant, economically inactive land, and revenues from the Crown Estate.
  • Create local police committees, which will ensure communities get the policing they need. They will be tasked with undertaking a community police audit. Build a strong link between local committees and the Scottish Police Authority (SPA)… The next stage of reform should be both to strengthen democratic links to communities up and down the land, and to give our elected Parliament a stronger role.
  • Our review of the Land Reform Act will be tasked with identifying improvements to the legislation … making good on the Land Reform Review Group’s recommendations.
  • A statutory Scottish Food Commission would work with stakeholders to report and advise on the sustainability of our food and supply chains, promote best practice to strengthen rural economies, develop binding recommendations on the reduction of food poverty…
  • With the integration of health and social care in operation, make sure that there is a single system to raise concerns, whether it is about hospital treatment, primary or social care.
  • Work to bring together stakeholders such as Sport Scotland, the Scottish Sports Association and the Scottish Volunteer Forum to create a Sport Volunteer Fund aimed at supporting people to go on coaching courses, child protection courses and mentoring schemes.
  • Continue to support fan ownership of football clubs, recognising that clubs are more than just businesses.
  • Develop a National Loneliness Strategy which will include training for doctors and health service staff on helping pensioners with depression.
  • Preserve the non-domestic rates exemption for small businesses and explore the case for extension to locally important social enterprises and community organisations such as small local and regional newspapers, and worker cooperatives. … invest in Co-operative Development Scotland and encourage the development of co-operatives.
  • Invest in credit unions to offer communities affordable alternatives that give them greater financial control.
  • Legislate to enshrine both the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into Scots law.
  • Consult with communities to develop a strategy laying out how we break down the barriers that disabled, black and ethnic minority people face to participate in public life.
  • Work with local authorities and third sector organisations to welcome and support refugees … introduce a Refugee Integration (Scotland) Bill setting out refugees’ rights to access services, enshrine national standards for integration in law, especially around language and interpretation, and simplify the many provisions in Scots law relevant to refugees.
  • Pursue new ownership models — community, co-operative, and public – to both generate and supply our energy. We will support businesses and communities, in islands and rural areas, in towns and cities, including those people currently off-grid, to reduce their energy demand, stimulating the development of commercially viable energy production.
  • Regulate Scotland’s buses to give local communities and councils greater say over the services they need and want.
  • The planning system … now needs reform to make the public interest stronger while providing certainty for developers to attract investment. We will improve the effectiveness of the plan-led system to ensure it respects local communities and holds the confidence of the public, developers and locally elected members.

Scottish National Party Manifesto link

  • Review the roles and responsibilities of local authorities and the relationships between local authorities and health boards. “We aim to transform our democratic landscape, protect and renew public services and refresh the relationship between citizens, communities and councils”:-
    • Consult on and introduce a Bill that will decentralise local authority functions, budgets and democratic oversight to local communities
    • Review and reform the role of Community Planning Partnerships so they are better placed to drive reform, including through use of citizens’ panels and town hall meetings
    • Continue to grow and develop City Deals, Town Centre Partnerships and Regional Economic Partnerships
  • Formally consult councils on devolving a portion of the revenue raised through income tax.
  • Build on the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act by:-
    • Setting councils a target of having at least 1 per cent of their budget subject to Community Choices budgeting. This will be backed by the Community Choices Fund.
    • Allowing community councils that can demonstrate a strong democratic mandate to deliver some services. We intend that in future community council elections will be held on the same day across the country to increase their profile and recognition.
  • Take steps to consolidate voluntary sector funding into single grant funds to provide greater clarity to applicants. Support the extension of core funding. Introduce three year rolling funding where possible.
  • Land Reform: Maintain commitment to 1m acres of land in community ownership by 2020 and “modernise and improve” compulsory sales orders
  • Encourage communities to buy property and land that is in a state of neglect through our community empowerment legislation and by accessing the Community Empowerment Fund.
  • Through the Community Empowerment Act, seek to increase access to land for food growing purposes, as part of a strong commitment to develop allotments and community gardens.
  • Publish a food sustainability plan aimed at ensuring everyone can feed themselves and their families and establish a £1 million a year Fair Food Fund to reduce reliance on emergency food provision.
  • Extend to individual schools responsibilities that currently sit solely with local authorities, allocate more resources directly to headteachers and enable them to take decisions based on local circumstances. Encourage school clusters and create new educational regions to decentralise management and support.
  • Recruit at least 250 Community Link Workers to work in GP surgeries and direct people to local services and support [in deprived communities]
  • Give greater recognition and weighting to community involvement and support in making future decisions social about investment in community sport facilities … increase the number of Community Sports Hubs to 200 by 2020,
  • Carefully consider the outcome of the consultation on improving supporter involvement in football clubs, and take the necessary action to give fans more influence.
  • Ensure better recognition for skills achieved through informal learning and youth-related activities.
  • Strengthen the support available to social enterprises as part of a 10-year social enterprise strategy… Encourage and support third sector organisations, social enterprises, and credit unions to enter the market place to fill gaps in the provision of services or to offer alternatives to current providers that are not offering services people can access easily or affordably. This includes energy, banking, payday loans, debt management, and funeral planning.
  • Establish a new fund for young people who have been in care, based on the example of Community Jobs Scotland, to specifically support them into appropriate work, training or educational opportunities.
  • Develop and implement a national strategy to tackle social isolation backed by a fund of £500,000 in 2016/17 and encourage use of the community empowerment fund for local community projects addressing issues of isolation and loneliness.
  • Use new powers to establish social and economic rights for Scotland over all matters we have responsibility for and to further embed the European Convention on Human Rights in Scotland. Invite a cross party group, including civic society, to establish a collaborative process, engaging with people across Scotland and learning from best global practice in participatory democracy, to advise on the guaranteed protections we should seek to enshrine in law. Embed Scotland’s National Action Plan on Human Rights and the Sustainable Development Goals into our National Performance Framework.
  • Pilot local rural infrastructure and development plans in Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders to create sustainable economic, social and community development.
  • Ensure that by 2020, at least half of newly consented renewable energy projects will have an element of shared ownership. … Explore the potential to create a government owned energy company to help the growth of local and community energy projects … Give communities the opportunity to use some of their income from renewables to support Scotland’s Climate Justice Fund if they wish to do so.
  • Improve tenant participation in the management of their homes and use a partner organisation to help tenants become more aware of their rights and be more involved in the management of properties. This will include placing a duty on Housing Associations and councils to consult with tenants on the management of homes.
  • Bring forward a Planning Reform Bill based on the recommendations of the Review. This will aim to streamline development planning and management procedures and practices to remove unnecessary blockages and delays. … By simplifying local development plans ensure they are effective for both local communities and developers.

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