Report advocates putting communities at the heart of decision making

Third Force News (13/08/2015) - A national third sector organisation is leading calls for the redesign of community planning in Scotland.

Voluntary Action Scotland (VAS) has launched what it calls a “new democratic vision” that puts local people at the centre of decision making.

The paper “Reimagining Community Planning in Scotland: A Vision for the Third Sector” has been developed in partnership with Dr Oliver Escobar of What Works Scotland.

VAS is the network body for Scotland’s local third sector support organisations.

The paper aims to start a conversation about how public bodies, the third sector, and Scottish Government can redesign community planning to put communities at the heart of decision making. 

We need a system that puts people themselves at the heart of decision making, alongside public services and the third sector

It argues that for Community Planning Partnerships (CPPs) to be effective they must be transformed into spaces for collaborative and participative policy making and goes on to call for budgets and resources to be more routinely shared and planned together. 

The launch comes just two weeks after the Community Empowerment Act received royal assent.

The Act gives CPPs statutory teeth for the first time, providing an opportune moment to kick-start discussions on how they can be best structured to involve communities.

There is a CPP in each local authority area whose aim is to bring together public bodies and others, such as TSIs, to see how they can best use their resources to improve public services and tackle inequalities.

Before the Community Empowerment Act, they had been operating on a non-statutory basis since 2003 and recent Audit Scotland reports have been critical of the pace of change and the lack of impact CPPs are having.

Calum Irving, chief executive of VAS, said: “We hope this paper will invigorate the conversation about how we make decisions locally. More importantly we hope that the actions it sets out can be taken now in order to deliver change at a time when it is needed most.

“At its heart the vision paper supports our belief that services work best when they are designed with the people that use them.

“The third sector can be a great vehicle for involving people and finding more effective ways to support them. Equally though we need a system that puts people themselves at the heart of decision making, alongside public services and the third sector.”

Centre for Scottish Public Policy
c/o Digby Brown LLP
160 Causewayside
Causewayside House
Edinburgh EH9 1PR
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