April 20, 2016
Participate to participate
Many commentators claim the Community Empowerment Act is a missed opportunity. Strong on intentions, they say, weak on delivery. But given virtually none of the Act is operational that judgement seems a tad premature. One part of the Act that has received relatively little attention to date is Part 3 – Participation Requests. This could turn out to be the Act’s slow burner and ultimately its surprise package. Focus Groups are being organised around the country to work up the detail of how it will work.
The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act was given Royal Assent on 24th July 2015. It has three main areas of focus: strengthening community planning to give communities more say in how public services are to be planned and provided; the extension of the community right to buy, or otherwise have greater control over assets; and new rights enabling communities to identify needs and issues and request action to be taken on these – these are called participation requests.
The legislation on participation requests provides a process for communities to request to work alongside public sector bodies to improve outcomes, and sets out duties on how public service authorities deal with such requests. They provide an opportunity for communities to set the agenda around how to tackle the needs or issues they have identified, and to become involved in helping to achieve the changes or improvements they are looking for.
Scottish Government regulations will provide more detail about how participation requests will work in practice. Statutory guidance will provide advice about how they should be used by communities and public service authorities. The Scottish Government is now consulting widely on the development of the regulations and statutory guidance. View the Scottish Government consultation here.
SCDC has produced a briefing which explains this process in more detail. We will also be supporting the formal Scottish Government consultation by working with a wide range of people from communities of place and interest to inform the draft regulations and the content of the statutory guidance.
We are inviting anyone from community groups and networks, and people working with communities, to give us their views on participation requests. We want to hear about ways in which they could be used, what the process of raising a participation request should be, what support and information might be needed to use the legislation, and how they should be promoted. Your feedback will help inform the regulations and statutory guidance which will accompany the Act.
We will be running a series of focus groups followed by an online survey (later in spring) to gather your views. Local focus groups will be held in the following locations on the following dates:
18th April (morning) Kilmarnock Ayrshire College
25th April (afternoon) Stirling Volunteer Scotland
10th May (morning) Dundee **FULL** DCA
11th May (afternoon) Inverness Spectrum Centre
19th May (morning) Edinburgh Scottish Storytelling Centre
24th May (morning) Glasgow **FULL** Betty’s Room, EVH
In addition to these local focus groups, we will be organising two focus groups for national organisations. These will take place in the afternoon of the Edinburgh and Glasgow dates above. If you are interested in attending either of these discussions, please select this option at the surveymonkey link below.
If you are interested in the participation request process or would like to be involved in any way in contributing your views then we’d be delighted to hear from you. To note interest please enter your details and preferences for involvement at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/BBTDVVR. You can also keep up to date on Twitter and Facebook.
Alternatively, contact Andrew Paterson at SCDC direct on email@example.com
Participation requests have the potential to provide communities with the power to set the agenda around the issues that are important to them. The regulations and statutory guidance will help shape how this new power will work in practice. Don’t miss this opportunity influence how participation requests can empower communities.