The Community Empowerment Scotland Bill was introduced in June 2014. The Bill is the result of a number of consultations and other preparatory work, and is set within the Scottish Governments wider programme of public service reform.
According to the Government, the Bill “reflects the policy principles of subsidiarity, community empowerment and improving outcomes and provides a framework which will empower community bodies through the ownership of land and buildings and strengthening their voices in the decisions that matter to them; supporting an increase in the pace and scale of public service reform by cementing the focus on achieving outcomes and improving the process of community planning.”
The bill covers a wide range of issues but has been widely criticised for being ‘toothless’. A significant criticism of the bill has been that it covers a wide range of issues, some of which, it may be argued, would be better tackled by individual pieces of legislation. A number of areas within the bill may be described as being so general in there terminology and proposed actions that they will do little to empower the communities they were designed to. The Scottish Governments financial evaluations, accompanying each area of the bill, have also been written to reflect the lack of extra funding to be provided to support the new proposals in the bill. At a time when local government and other public and third-sector bodies are already financial stretched it will, therefore, be a significant challenge for them to meet the extra requirements and measures as proposed in the bill from existing resources.
The 8 main sections of the bill are:
- Part 1 aims to provide a statutory basis for the use of “National Outcomes”.
- Part 2 contains a number of reforms to the system of community planning.
- Part 3 provides for a process to allow community bodies to become involved in delivery of public services.
- Part 4 makes a range of changes to the community right to buy land.
- Part 5 provides for a process to allow community bodies to take on assets from the public sector.
- Part 6 makes a number of reforms to the system of common good.
- Part 7 is concerned with allotments.
- Part 8 allows local authorities to set their own reliefs for business rates.
A full briefing on the Community Empowerment Bill can be downloaded here: SB_14-58_
A call for participants to give evidence at the Local Government Committee is still ongoing; as is the call for written submissions on the section of the bill regarding allotments.
The Local Government Committee intend to use their social media pages to post regular pod-casts and information as to how individuals can have their say on the Community Empowerment bill and follow it’s progress through parliament. These links can be found here: