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October 21, 2009

Getting community empowerment back on track

  Local People  Leading is an informal alliance of national and regional networks which work in Scotland’s community sector. Between them they serve over 1400 community based organisations. LPL welcomed the Scottish Government’s Community Empowerment Action Plan as an important first step on the road to greater levels of community empowerment in Scotland.  However our view now, seven months after the Plan was launched, is that momentum has slowed and the focus contained in the Plan has drifted. There are six key areas where LPL considers further action by national and local government is required :

1.   formally recognise the community sector as a distinct part of the Third Sector by publishing a national strategy designed to nurture its continued development

2.   commit to a process of ‘double devolution’ which moves power and decision making away from government  and places it at the most appropriate local level.

3.   invest in a programme which is designed to increase the flow of assets including land, buildings and the generation of renewable energy into community ownership.

4.   recognise that in order to empower themselves, communities need to be able to employ their own workers.  This support  cannot be delivered effectively by the state.

5.   acknowledge that sustained community empowerment cannot take place without the presence of community anchor organisations to provide local leadership.

6.   recognise that community led action in the face of climate change is the crucial ‘first step’ in response to this global challenge. Investment programmes need to reflect this.                         

November ‘09