Please send me SCA's fortnightly briefing:

April 23, 2008

Where is Community Empowerment in Scotland

A position statement on Community Empowerment is overdue from Scottish Government as is the decision about which department will lead on this cross-cutting theme. The minister who has sounded most comfortable so far about local empowerment is Richard Lochhead at Rural Affairs.

Katrine Bussey

RURAL communities in Scotland were given a huge cash boost yesterday.

A total of £57.7 million is being made available to help “grow” local economies, improve facilities and conserve the environment.

It is the first wave of funds to be released under the £1.6 billion Scotland Rural Development Programme, designed to empower communities at grass-roots level, and is made up of cash from the Scottish Government and the European Union.

The money will be matched at local level with both public and private funds, potentially doubling the amount available to communities.

Richard Lochhead, the environment secretary, said: “This is a massive investment in rural Scotland which will see decisions taken in local areas on how best to support a wide range of grass-roots community projects.”

A total of £38.5million from the funding package will be distributed across all of rural Scotland, while £19.2million will go to the Highlands and Islands.

Sixteen local action groups will administer the cash and Mr Lochhead said: “The fact that all funding decisions are to be taken locally will greatly empower community decision-making.”