Please send me SCA's fortnightly briefing:

May 18, 2011

A shift from the centre?

With the Localism Bill at Westminster, the refusal of Big Society to fade away and the newly elected Scottish Government’s commitment to a Community Empowerment and Renewal Bill, you might conclude that the policy pendulum is finally beginning to swing in our favour. On the other hand, you could argue it’s all just smoke and mirrors. Next month, the Community Alliance is supporting a conference to explore whether this is the case. We’ve got some free tickets

To see conference programme – click here

The Scottish Community Alliance has a limited number of free tickets for this event – first come, first served. Email:

At a UK level, the Localism agenda is being heralded as the most forward thinking of the UK Coalition Government’s plans. With the Localism Bill passing through the House of Commons, there is a visible refocusing of energy in England towards an outcomes culture and community owned, locally led solutions. In this climate, Scotland finds itself in a unique position, having already moved beyond this drive for ‘localism’ with a well progressed outcomes culture and prior devolution of power from central government to the local level enshrined within the historic Concordat.

Further engagement is occurring via local partnerships. For example, Community Planning Partnerships align the approaches taken by local public sector agencies, and increasingly seek to engage with Third and Private Sector organisations to better serve the area. To date this partnership-based approach, focused on shared objectives and effective communication, has yielded positive service outcomes. However, further emphasis is now being placed on greater community empowerment, informed by drastically reduced public sector budgets and a more critical and expectant public. Shifting decisions closer to the public and service delivery may address both issues of cost and trust, but what would this look like beyond principle?

With centralising themes dominating the Scottish election campaigns, wholesale reorganisation and devolution of authority to a more local tier seems unlikely. That being said the Christie Commission may give recommendations to the contrary, or we may see the centralisation or amalgamation of functions be complemented by increased community resourcing.

What is clear for any outcome is that there is a need for greater connection and involvement at a local level – but what will this look like?