Local Governance Review

We want to devolve more power to more local levels.

We jointly launched the Local Governance Review with COSLA to ensure Scotland’s diverse communities and different places have greater control and influence over decisions that affect them most. 

The Review does this by considering how powers, responsibilities and resources are shared across national and local spheres of government, and with communities.

Second phase 

On 28 November 2019, the Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government and the COSLA President sent a letter to all public sector leaders, updating them on the second phase of the Local Governance Review and inviting them to get involved in developing and testing ideas for alternative governance arrangements with the most transformative potential. 

A number of councils and wider public sector partners have submitted their proposals for change across three interlinked areas of empowerment. Dialogue on these ideas will now begin in light of the emerging lessons from the pandemic which prevented further Democracy Matters conversations from taking place in communities across Scotland during 2020 as planned.  

Joint statement on progress

On 18 March 2021 the Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government and the COSLA President released a joint statement providing an update on progress with the Review to date. This reaffirms our commitment to an ambitious approach to community empowerment and the fiscal and functional empowerment of local government.

We know that people want a clearer sense of how their aspirations for having more control over decisions that affect their communities could be made real. Therefore the statement is accompanied by the Democracy Matters material which would have provided the basis for a second phase of discussion on future scenarios for community decision-making in different settings if the pandemic had not prevented these. This is also available as an easy read version. It connects what the future could hold to many of the questions people told us in phase one we would need to consider to make any new arrangements work in practice.

The statement is also accompanied by an international review of governance systems and citizen participation. This offers case studies from six high-functioning democracies around the world. Scotland is provided as a foundation for comparison. This is another important resource to help guide future deliberation about how Scotland is governed. Read a summary of the report

We are encouraging everyone to get involved and help strengthen democracy in a way that makes Scotland a better place for all. To stay in touch and informed on the next steps in this process you can sign up to our newsletter, email us at democracymatters@gov.scot and follow us on Twitter @CommEmpower.

First phase findings

On 16 May 2019 Aileen Campbell MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government COSLA President shared the reports based on the analysis of responses to the first engagement phase of the Local Governance Review  and outlined next steps in a joint statement

These reports reflects what we heard from over 4,000 people who took part in #DemocracyMatters conversations about the future of community decision-making. At hundreds of events across Scotland, people discussed whether their community should be able to take more decisions about a whole range of public services, and the benefits this might bring.

The Democracy Matters conversation was framed by a small set of open questions found in the consultation document: Democracy Matters - Your Community. Your Ideas. Your Future. A Democracy Matters: easy-read guide was also available.

We have produced the following as a result of these conversations:-

At the same time as ‘Democracy Matters’, more than 40 public sector partners submitted proposals for alternative governance arrangements designed to improve outcomes for people and drive inclusive growth in the places they serve. These proposals were sent in response to a letter from the Scottish Government and COSLA to Scotland’s public sector leaders. We published a report detailing this analysis of alternative governance arrangements on 16 May 2019.