It’s fair to say that the Scottish Government’s plans to establish a National Care Service to sit alongside the NHS have had a bumpy ride so far. Most notably from local authorities who denounced the proposals as a centralising power grab and yet another nail in the coffin of local democracy. And there are others who argue that it’s simply wrong-headed to design a system of care that actively enables the extraction of private profit. But whatever the rights and wrongs of the current debate, it seems to be ignoring a very simple truth about the nature of what real care is – which is that for most of us, for most of the time, care is rooted in families, friends, neighbours and community associations. And so it follows that the central challenge for those designing this National Care Service should be how to complement and bolster where this real care actually takes place, by working with the grain of where people want to live and be cared for – in their communities. But just as the Health Service seems incapable of harnessing the resources of those communities that it serves, there’s a depressing inevitability about where this Care Service is heading too.
In the most recent briefing…
For some reason Govanhill just seems to be a melting pot of community activism and innovation. Despite the not inconsiderable challenges that the community has to contend with, there’s a confidence about the place that’s almost palpable. Whatever its secret is, community journalism and in particular an award winning community magazine Greater Govanhill plays a big part. Latest excitement is the opening of The Community Newsroom – a hyperlocal media hub in collaboration with investigative journalism outlet, The Ferret. As always with these things, it’s been launched on a wing and a prayer and a crowdfunder!
As the final shape of the Community Empowerment Bill was debated, some items for inclusion in the Bill fell by the wayside (participatory budgeting) and some of the arguments became seriously heated and protracted. Top of the list in that respect was Part 9 of the Act – Allotments. A Scottish Parliament committee has recently reviewed whether the Act has delivered on its promise. Widening the scope of its enquiry to include community growing, the Committee convenor Ariane Burgess MSP, argues for much stronger leadership from the Scottish Government, pointing to worrying levels of unmet demand from communities across Scotland.
Listening to Aidan Pia give the John Pearce Lecture last week in which he shared his reflections on 20 years at Senscot, I was reminded that a legacy of that period was the establishment of Firstport – a start-up agency for social enterprise. What I‘d forgotten was that part of its remit, as well as to encourage individual social entrepreneurs, was to support start-up community enterprises. One programme that they run is the Social Innovation Challenge – this year a £50,000 competition for rural communities tackling the challenge of climate change. Four fantastic projects are through to the final stage.
If you were to scroll down the list of what’s on the legislative programme for the Scottish Government, most of it would probably seem either somewhat arcane or irrelevant to your interests. It’s the nature of government. And unless you own land or are a tenant farmer it’s likely that the reference to an Agriculture Bill will be one of those that you quickly pass over. But that would be a mistake. SCA member, Nourish Scotland who campaign for a better food system are running a series of events to explain why. SCA is co-hosting one in November.
The recently announced rent freeze and eviction ban across Scotland’s rental sector to protect tenants from the cost of living crisis has provoked howls of protest from right across the board – including social landlords. While landlords might object to their business model being temporarily disrupted, there’s little that they can do other than howl their protest. One landlord however seems to be accorded some special privileges within our democratic system which suggests that we are not all quite as equal before the law as one might have thought. Tenants on a certain Balmoral estate might be interested in this.
Since the early days of the Scottish Parliament, land reform has been the most consistent feature of its legislative programmes. The consultation on yet another Bill concludes next week – this time with a focus on measures to tackle the scale and concentration of landownership. But multiple pieces of legislation don’t necessarily imply real progress. As Andy Wightman points out in this Holyrood Magazine article, this new Bill is not designed to tackle the underlying issues of scale and concentration, but rather just mitigate the impacts. There’s a big difference there. Perhaps just fiddling while Rome burns.
Greener Kirkcaldy is a community-led charity and development trust working in Kirkcaldy and throughout Fife. It would like to see a future where everyone is able to heat their home affordably, eat well, and tread more lightly on our planet. The charity works towards that by delivering projects to meet the needs of local people: tackling fuel and food poverty, improving health and wellbeing, and bringing the community together. The organisation takes a community development approach, supporting volunteers and the wider community to make Kirkcaldy a greener and fairer place to live. Greener Kirkcaldy formed in 2009 when a group…Find out more