Open Government - public participation strategy: advice

This report on advice to inform Scotland's Open Government public participation strategy is based on the findings of the Covid Public Engagement Expert Advisory Group. It considers public engagement in the form of information receiving, compliance with guidelines, and political and community engagement.


1. Implement existing resources and action plans and value those already working in community engagement . Practical toolkits, action plans and standards have been designed and published: they should be actioned. Recognise the service delivery and regeneration activity stemming from the work of anchor organisations operating out with the traditional third sector and resource those organisations to implement a wider independent community development role. Employ and encourage community researchers and neighbourhood development plans.

2. Embed public participation and community engagement into how politics is done in Scotland. Communities are critical to the fabric of a good society, they provide opportunities for participation, and for people to have agency. Ensure that participation matters, communities need to be at the forefront of how public policy is shaped, implemented and evaluated.

3. Capabilities approach: Community empowerment starts with individual empowerment - this requires a long-term commitment from the Scottish Government to action their vision for change including tackling poverty and other systemic inequalities.

4. Implement subsidiarity in order to develop community empowerment and in the longer term community resilience. Power should be appropriately and proportionately decentralised to local authorities and communities in order to allow them to apply flexible and responsive solutions to problems experienced within their communities. Engage in direct neighbourhood work designed to stimulate new activity, enhance existing activity and create social connectedness. This will go some way to creating communities that are better equipped to survive the next crisis.

5. Move away from year on year grants and develop sustainable funding streams: Scale up mechanisms for community ‘investment’ as opposed to grants to provide stability in terms of funding and initiatives.

6. Encourage collaboration, partnerships and trust between sectors. Join up sectors of interest by encouraging partnerships, connections and collaborative working practices which will avoid duplication and competition, and ensure that funding can be focused beyond communities of place to include communities of interest and identity.

7. Reduce bureaucracy not just for voluntary organisations but for local authority too.

8. Invest in the skills necessary for the delivery of this vision. Provide support for building the capacity of community organisations by enhancing their skills, organisational effectiveness, their inclusion and equalities practice, their influence over services and their participation in decision-making processes.

9. Establish wider and better communication with the public by diversifying the channels of communication. Include wider groups of people to be part of the message, in communities, in the media and in expert advisory groups. Take participation to communities, allow them to get involved in their terms. It doesn’t all have to be formal participation for it to count.



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