We are committed to supporting our communities to do things for themselves, and to make their voices heard in the planning and delivery of services.
To empower communities in Scotland, we are:
- funding community-led regeneration through the Empowering Communities Fund
- funding participatory budgeting through the £1.5 million Community Choices Fund, giving people more power to make decisions on spending in their local areas
- making it easier for communities to take over land and buildings in public ownership through asset transfer
- supporting community councils to represent communities' opinions and needs to public bodies
- giving communities the ability to request to participate in decisions and processes which are aimed at improving outcomes through participation requests
- setting out best practise for public bodies to engage with communities via the National Standards for Community Engagement
- providing guidance on common good property
- launching the Local Governance Review, a comprehensive review of how local decisions are made and how local democracy is working
- supporting public service providers to work together and with local communities via community planning to shape and deliver better services
- bringing forward legislation to empower our island communities
- supporting six islands to become carbon neutral by 2040
Research has shown that when communities feel empowered, there is:
- greater participation in local democracy
- increased confidence and skills among local people
- more people volunteering in their communities
- greater satisfaction with quality of life in the neighbourhood
Better community engagement and participation leads to the delivery of better, more responsive services and better outcomes for communities.
In 2015 Parliament passed the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 to give new rights to community bodies and new duties to public sector authorities. To explain further, wepublished:
In line with requirements of the Act, we commissioned researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University to undertake evaluations for Participation Requests and Asset Transfers:
- read the evaluation report for participation requests
- read the evaluation report for asset transfers
Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 Review
We have begun a review of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 (July 2022) to explore if the legislation is doing what it set out to do and if any changes are required. The review will have a particular focus on community ownership and strengthening decision-making to improve outcomes for the local community. The review should finish in the second half of 2023.
For more information please email Community.Empowerment@gov.scot. Please ensure you include which part of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) 2015 you are interested in, your question and contact details.
Extent of community ownership
The extent of community ownership is monitored by the Community Ownership in Scotland statistical publication which also informs the National Indicator on community ownership. We are aware there may be instances of community ownership which are not currently included in this publication. We've published a form for reporting information about instances of community ownership. We can then consider these for inclusion in the next update to the publication.
Bills and legislation
The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 gave community bodies new rights and public sector authorities new duties.
The Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 required local authorities to introduce Community Council schemes for their area, outlining various arrangements including elections, meetings, boundaries, and finance. Local authorities have statutory oversight of Community Councils and, in consultation with their Community Councils, the freedom to tailor schemes to the particular circumstances of their area.
The Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 was granted Royal Assent in July 2018. The Act introduces measures to support and help meet the unique needs of Scotland's islands now and in the future. It will also seek to help create the right environment for sustainable growth and empowered communities.
Community Empowerment Team
Area 3F North