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May 7, 2008

Joint Commitment to Community Empowerment

Following consultations at the end of last year, the Scottish Government has made an announcement on progress being made on the ‘Empowering Communities’ agenda. A joint statement with COSLA commits all parties to the development of an ‘Action Plan’ over the coming months. While lacking any real detail on when the Plan will emerge and what it will contain, the fact that a joint commitment with COSLA has been secured is highly significant and gives grounds for optimism for the future.


We are delighted that for the first time in Scotland, central and local government are making an explicit joint commitment to helping local people to play their full part in making Scotland flourish.

For the Scottish Government and COSLA empowering communities is not jargon, it is a key element of what we are both about. This is an agenda we share with colleagues from across the public, voluntary and community sectors.

A key element of our joint commitment is to be clear about what community empowerment is and why it matters.

We see community empowerment as a process where people work together to make change happen in their communities by having more power and influence over what matters to them. We also each believe in the central representative role of councillors in invigorating local democracy, and we see the process of community empowerment as a key way of complementing this.

In getting to this point we have listened to a wide range of people and we have responded to what we heard. So we are seeking to provide strategic leadership. We are not launching new short term initiatives and we will celebrate the vibrant work that is already being done across the country.

To support this high level commitment, we will also develop an Action Plan in partnership with the community and voluntary sectors over the coming months. Based on feedback we have received to date the broad outline of that plan will cover:

• Highlighting examples of community empowerment;

• Providing direct capacity building investment to community groups;

• Investing in an integrated programme to develop skills, learning and networking in relation to community empowerment and engagement;

• Developing support to help communities own assets;

• Investing in improved support for community capacity building;

• Working with Audit Scotland to agree how to assess progress on empowerment.

Today’s joint commitment is a starting point for a long term journey, and we look forward to continuing to work together and with communities as it develops.