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November 10, 2010

It’s the season of manifestos

With next year’s Scottish Parliament elections on the horizon, manifestos from all the political parties are starting to take shape. Over the next few months, LPL will be scrutinising them all to check for commitments to devolve real power and resources away from government by investing in and trusting communities to take control of their own affairs.  The SNP have launched an online consultation.  One or two of their proposals might shake things up a bit – if they see the light of day

SNP Manifesto proposals – a consultation

We propose a Community Empowerment and Renewal Bill to strengthen communities across Scotland. It will include a new streamlined route to enable community purchase of under-used or unused public sector assets and options to enable communities to deal with derelict and dormant land and buildings in their midst. We believe that for many communities the transfer of a viable asset can provide the catalyst for a wide range of community activities and enterprises.

Scotland needs a National Litter Strategy and SNP MSPs and Councillors will host local and national litter summits so we can hear peoples views on a range of measures, including actions that we know work elsewhere. For example ‘Adopt a Highway’ from the USA, Street Champions from England or Helsinki’s Spring Clean Festivals which bring together communities and volunteers alongside the public sector.

And alongside this action on community asset transfer, we also seek your views on the creation of a series of Local Endowment Funds, starting with Scotland’s most deprived communities as a means of delivering a long-term income stream for community led initiatives.

A number of organisations have made representations to us about the potential benefits of Social Impact Bonds. These draw in non-governmental, upfront investment to tackle and reduce specific social problems, with investors paid back from the medium term savings to the public purse. We believe Social Impact Bonds are a potentially powerful tool, creating a financial mechanism that will test the premise that social investment today can deliver financial savings in the future. They also have the potential to draw in private and third sector investment at a time of pressure on public sector budgets.

We are looking to identify three pilot projects that would benefit from investment through Social Impact Bonds. Projects would be ones that require substantial up-front investment, and which then would reduce ongoing costs to the public sector. These could focus on health, justice, poverty or climate change and would be designed to deliver significant benefits for the communities involved.

We are also examining ways of supporting and encouraging new sources of finance and credit for both small businesses and community enterprises. We will work to support the expansion of Charity and Social Banking, including Credit Unions and the provision of micro-finance for emerging enterprises. And we will work to deliver a significant expansion of social enterprise and co-operative businesses and services.

The Scottish Government is currently consulting on a range of creative ways to fund new housing development, at a time when public funds are extremely limited. We will be setting out our ideas on housing at a later stage.

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