The Community Empowerment Act is designed to empower community bodies through the ownership of land and buildings, and by strengthening their voices in the decisions that matter to them.
Community led Social Enterprise
As local authorities continue to reduce the services they are able to provide, local communities are thinking about how they can ensure vital services are not lost, including taking on services and facilities and running these themselves.
Where a community wants to deliver a service or activity directly, Edinburgh Social Enterprise can help determine whether or not a social enterprise is the best way of doing this and can give advice and support with start up. Where a different model, such as charity or volunteer led group is more appropriate we will signpost you to our partners in EVOC or Volunteer Edinburgh.
There are a number of changes to policy, decision making structures and legislation that have been put in place to help communities take ownership of assets and directly manage and deliver services. The key ones are listed below.
Community Asset Transfer
This important part of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2016 introduces a right for community bodies to make requests to a wide range of public bodies to buy or lease any public buildings they feel they could make better use of.
Community Ownership Support Service (COSS) are an excellent source of support and information on Asset Transfer and Community Right to Buy, and this page lays out the key information for anyone who may be considering putting in a request.
Community Planning Partnerships
Community planning is about councils and other public bodies like the police, the fire and rescue service and the NHS working with local communities, businesses, charities and voluntary groups. Together they plan and deliver better services to improve the lives of local people.
You can find out more on the Scottish Government website.
Edinburgh Local Improvement Plans
The City of Edinburgh Council and the Health and Social Care Partnership are moving to a locality model of working – a phased implementation started in April 2016. Edinburgh’s localities are divided into four geographical areas: North East, North West, South East and South West. You can find more information about the locality areas on the Edinburgh Compact website.
If you’re a community organisation and are planning to do some engagement and needs analysis for your local area, resources are available to help.
National Standards for Community Engagement: good-practice principles designed to support and inform the process of community engagement, and improve what happens as a result.
Place Standard: The Place Standard tool provides a simple framework to structure conversations about a place.
Community councils are groups of people who care about their community and want to make their area a better place to live. They have an important role in local democracy. They represent the views of local people on Neighbourhood Partnerships and convey these views to the Council and other organisations. They are governed by the Scheme for Community Councils. You can read more about Community Councils, and how to get involved, here.
Participatory budgeting (PB) is a process of democratic deliberation and decision-making, and a type of participatory democracy, in which ordinary people decide how to allocate part of a council or public budget. PB originated in Porto Alegre, Brazil in the late 1980s and has since spread to over 1,500 localities around the world. It was born from a desire to reallocate public money locally and democratically to where it was needed most.
Participatory budgeting sits alongside the Community Empowerment Act as an important tool to build participatory democracy across Scotland. Local schemes include Leith Decides, and details of PB in Scotland can be found on the PB Scotland website.
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