What difference does the 2015 Act make to community planning?
In summary, the Act makes significant changes to community planning legislation, previously contained in Part 2 of the Local Government in Scotland Act 2003. Community planning now has a clear statutory purpose focused on improving outcomes. It is explicitly about how public bodies work together and with the local community to plan for, resource and provide services which improve local outcomes in the local authority area, all with a view to reducing inequalities. These reforms recognise that:
- it is unlikely that any public sector body can most effectively meet its own business requirements by working in isolation.
- public bodies need to work closely in partnership with each other and their local communities in order to make the biggest difference in the outcomes for which they are responsible.
- how public sector bodies and communities do this should reflect often distinctive local conditions.
The 2015 Act requires CPPs to:
- prepare and publish a local outcomes improvement plan ( LOIP) which sets out the local outcomes which the CPP will prioritise for improvement
- identify smaller areas within the local authority area which experience the poorest outcomes, and prepare and publish locality plans to improve outcomes on agreed priorities for these communities (the outcomes prioritised for improvement in a locality plan may differ from those in the local outcomes improvement plan)
- review and report publicly on progress towards their LOIP and locality plans, and keep the continued suitability of these plans under review.
The 2015 Act expands the number of public sector bodies that are subject to community planning duties. Statutory partners under the 2003 Act are the local authority; the Health Board; Scottish Enterprise / Highlands and Islands Enterprise; Police Scotland; the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, and the Regional Transport Partnership. Schedule 1 to the 2015 Act expands this list to include:
- Historic Environment Scotland
- the health and social care Integration Joint Board for the area
- a National Park authority
- the board of management of a regional college
- a regional strategic body under the Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Act 2005
- Scottish Environment Protection Agency
- Scottish Natural Heritage
- Scottish Sports Council ( i.e. Sportscotland)
- Skills Development Scotland
The 2015 Act places specific duties on community planning partners, all linked to improving outcomes. These include:
- co-operating with other partners in carrying out community planning
- taking account of LOIPs in carrying out its functions;
- contributing such funds, staff and other resources as the CPP considers appropriate to improve local outcomes in the LOIP and secure participation of community bodies throughout community planning.
Under the 2015 Act, running the CPP and making sure it works effectively is a shared enterprise. It applies duties to support shared leadership and collective governance on specified community planning partners, i.e. the local authority, NHS, Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Scottish Enterprise or Highlands and Islands Enterprise. These duties include:
- facilitating community planning
- taking all reasonable steps to ensure the CPP conducts its functions effectively and efficiently.
The participation of and with communities lies at the heart of community planning, and apply in the development, design and delivery of plans as well as in the review, revision and reporting. The 2015 Act and this guidance make it clear that consultation is no longer enough and that CPPs and community planning partners must act to secure the participation of communities throughout.
So CPPs must take all reasonable steps to secure the involvement in community planning of any community body which it considers is likely to be able to contribute to it, to the extent that the community body wishes. They must in particular have regard to community bodies which represent those communities experiencing socio-economic disadvantage. And statutory community planning partners must contribute such funds, staff and other resources as the CPP considers appropriate to secure participation of community bodies in community planning.
Whilst the provisions in the 2015 Act sets out statutory duties on CPPs and community planning partners, effective community planning requires more than simply complying with these duties. CPPs and community planning partners need to apply the principles of effective community planning summarised in this guidance, as without them then community planning is unlikely to make the difference to people and communities that it can and should.
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