GCVS will be holding a consultation seminar with our members on the morning of 16th January 2014, which will inform our response, prior to our submission to the Scottish Government. We would encourage you to attend and make your views known.

The Scottish Government is now consulting on the draft legislation in the form of the Community Empowerment Bill and this consultation closes on the 24th of January 2014.

To help member organisations consider the issues, we have summarised some key questions we think that respondents may wish to consider. Although some of these may seem quite technical they are attempt to respond to specific ideas in the draft legislation.  We will be able to clarify the key issues at our members’ seminar.

As well as seeking our own member’s views we also want to encourage detailed consideration of the Bill for your own organisations, community groups and service users.

Key Aims of the Bill

The Bill’s aim is to support community led action, enable people to be more involved in decisions affecting their lives and communities and deliver a range of improved social, economic and environmental benefits.   Its provisions emphasise increasing locally driven, enterprising community development and sustainable economic growth.

The consultation paper is extensive and asks respondents to consider draft legislation including, but not limited to, the following areas:

  • Community Right to Request to purchase or use property – allows underused or unused public sector assets to be taken over by community bodies.
  • The Right to Request to participate in processes to improve outcomes of service delivery – where a community is unhappy with a local service they can request to participate in processes to improve outcomes or take over services.
  • Increased transparency about common good assets – includes a register of common good assets to be created by each local authority. Community Councils will have a new statutory role in relation to this.
  • A compulsory right for communities to purchase land for community use – this will improve and extend on the existing community right to buy in rural areas.
  • Compulsory powers for communities to acquire neglected or abandoned buildings or land more generally.
  • Strengthening Community Planning – includes measures which clarify the roles and responsibilities of CPPs and places new duties on public sector partners to play a full and active role in community planning and the resourcing and delivery of local priority outcomes.
  • Community rights in relation to the provision of allotments – The Bill proposes that policy on allotment provision should be demand led. If demand exceeds supply local authorities must consider additional land acquisition.
  • Local relief schemes for non-domestic (business) rates – this would allow councils to create and fund their own localised business rate relief schemes to better reflect local needs and support communities.
  • Scotland Performs – This suggests embedding the outcomes approach in the National Performance Framework in legislation.

Read the full Community Empowerment Members’ Briefing.