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October 5, 2016

Standards makeover

When the National Standards for Community Engagement were first published in 2005, it’s fair to say that many parts of the public sector and certainly most of the private sector had little reason to think they were intended for them. Public service reform was barely a twinkle in the eye, community empowerment legislation was some way behind that and private land owners were looking in a different direction altogether. Ten years on, and the policy landscape has been transformed. Appropriate then, that the Standards get more than a lick of paint to make them fully fit for purpose. 

Scottish Government

The new revised National Standards for Community Engagement were launched on Thursday 29th September 2016 by the Minister for Housing and Local Government, Kevin Stewart MSP, in Kelty Community Centre in Fife.

The Minister said that the days of communities being told what to do are in the past, and that we are now seeing, right across the country, communities becoming involved in every aspect of decision making. Engaging with communities leads to better decisions, he added. The Minister welcomed the revised National Standards for Community Engagement as a framework for supporting the participation and empowerment of communities.

Download the revised National Standards for Community Engagement

First developed in 2005, the Standards are key principles for effective practice which support community engagement and user involvement in Scotland, in areas such as community planning and health and social care. In so doing they are intended to complement and support Scotland’s developing community empowerment landscape and in particular the implementation of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015.

In 2015 and 2016, SCDC and What Works Scotland were commissioned by the Scottish Government to undertake a participatory process to review and update the Standards in light of the current context. Click on the infographic on the left for a summary of the engagement.

What’s in the revised Standards?

The National Standards for Community Engagement have been simplified to seven Standards, reflecting the main elements of good community engagement – Inclusion, Support, Planning, Working Together, Methods, Communication and Impact. The diagram on the right gives some more information on each of these (click on the image to view in full).

Over the coming months a range of accompanying resources will be developed – including an Easy Read version, case studies, and a handy hints guide – to support the use of the Standards across Scotland. These will also be available to download from

In addition, there will be a series of dissemination events across the country to highlight the Standards and their possible uses to support effective community engagement. Further details will be available soon.