Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015, part 2, community planning: guidance (Plain English version)

This guide is to help people and communities understand what community planning is all about and how they can become involved.


Who is the guide for?

This guide is to help people and community bodies understand what community planning is all about. It's a summary of the main points of interest for members of the public and community groups. The guide does not include everything public services should be doing to make community planning work. These are set out in the Act and community planning guidance, both of which are available from the Scottish Government Weblink .

What is community planning?

Community planning helps local public services to work together and with local communities to plan and deliver better services that make a real difference to people's lives. It is based on the idea that public bodies can get better results locally by working together and with our communities so that public services improve for the people who use them

The Community Planning Partnership (or CPP) is the name given to all those who come together to take part in community planning. There are 32 CPPs across Scotland, 1 for each council area. Each CPP is responsible for developing and delivering their plan in their council area.

Local public services such as councils, NHS boards, police and fire services, and other public bodies are partners in the CPP. These partners work together to improve the way that local services are planned, co-ordinated and carried out. When community planning works well, services meet the needs of people living locally; especially those people who need those services most and who can benefit most from them.

Why community planning?

Sometimes, we can do better when we work together rather than when we try to sort difficult problems on our own. Peoples' lives are complicated and involve a lot of different things and sometimes it takes a number of partners working together to tackle difficult challenges. For example, people who are frail can be helped by building houses that are adapted to make their lives easier. But building more suitable houses might not solve all the problems that frail people may face. It may be just as important to have good access to public transport, health, social care and other services that help people remain close to their family, friends and community.

Community planning does not replace the activities that these public sector bodies do on their own as part of their everyday work. For example, local CPPs aren't responsible for fighting fires. But community planning partners and local communities could work together with the Fire and Rescue Service to prevent fires from happening in the first place. They might for instance work together to make sure they share information, understanding and resources so that helpful things, like smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and fire blankets are put in homes and other buildings where they are needed most. They may share information, with consent, about people at greater risk in a fire for example because they are very elderly, disabled or have dementia; and work together to help these people live more safely.

Community planning encourages local public sector bodies to work closely with people in communities to deliver the services they need most. Designing public services with and for communities is better than expecting people and communities fit in with public services.

Who takes part in community planning?

There is a list of public sector bodies that are named as partners in community planning at the end of this paper. Some of these partners are responsible for making sure that community planning takes place in that area. Not all partners work in every local authority area (for example the Cairngorm National Park Authority is only a partner in CPPs which cover its own area).

The CPP can also invite other public bodies to take part in community planning.

The community voice is essential to community planning. The CPP should involve community groups, third sector groups and organisations that represent private companies in its work. Their views should influence the design, delivery and review of services. They should also influence what and how the partners report progress on their work.

How does community planning work?

Effective community planning involves partners' working together on those activities that will make the most difference for their local communities.

Understanding local need

CPPs need a clear understanding of local communities' needs, circumstances and opportunities, which they can use to identify local priorities. This understanding will be built on the information, knowledge and evidence from partners, as well as the views of local people


CPPs produce two types of plan which describe its local priorities what improvements it plans for its local communities and when it will make these improvements. The first type of plan is called a Local Outcomes Improvement Plan, which covers the whole CPP area.

The second type of plan is called a locality plan. Locality plans cover smaller areas within the CPP area. Locality plans may also be produced for groups who share common interests or features, for example, young people leaving care or vulnerable adults. Each CPP must produce at least one locality plan, and some CPPs will produce many. There is no fixed number of locality plans which CPPs must produce, but they must as a minimum produce locality plans for every smaller area in which the local community doesn't benefit from good outcomes which people elsewhere can enjoy. Locality planning aims to meet the needs and ambitions of local people, so the voices of local communities are especially important.

It is the CPP that decides how to organise itself, but it should make sure that everyone involved is clear about what they have agreed to do and who is responsible for doing what.

How can local people and community groups become involved?

There are many ways for CPPs to engage with communities. And there are many ways for communities to tell CPPs what they think they should be doing and how the community can contribute. CPPs should help communities to take part using a wide range of methods. Examples of ways to exchange views include letters, emails, individual meetings, public meetings, online surveys, social media, etc.

The involvement of the local community in community planning is important and includes taking part in deciding on what the CPP should do, how they should do it, and who they should do things with and for. Community involvement helps public service providers understand how well these things have been done and whether the changes have made a difference to local people's lives.

Each CPP is responsible for making local arrangements that help community groups and local people that want to, become involved throughout community planning. This means working with rather than doing to people and communities, to make improvements. CPPs should work with those communities to help them fulfil their ambitions. They should also support communities that want to, play a part in designing and delivering services.

CPPs should listen to a wide range of views, including minority and opposing opinions from communities and interested groups. CPPs should provide opportunities for communities to give their views, but they are not expected to do everything that a community group or individual wants them to. After all, not every community group will want the same things, and sometimes different community groups or individuals will have completely different views. The job of the CPP is to listen to these different views and honestly and openly explain what they are doing in response to those views, whether they agree with them or not.

The CPP should put in place sensible, effective ways for people and communities to tell them what they think about services. CPPs should show how they have listened to peoples' views, as well as what they have done differently because of those views. The CPP should support communities to make these views heard and understood. Those people who find it difficult to get involved or make their voice heard (for example because of language barriers, disability or because they don't think people will listen to them) are often the people who will benefit most from support. It is important that CPPs understand the variety of different views from communities not just from those who are better at getting their views heard or who already have better access to decisions makers.

How will communities know what has changed?

CPPs have to let their communities know what progress they have made in improving the lives of local people. Reports about progress, whether good or bad, should be easily available to the local community, so that communities can see and understand what has changed because of community planning. Reports should explain what the priorities are and show how things have improved or worsened.

CPPs must report every year to their communities. The reporting year usually runs from 1 April to 31 March. CPPs must publish this report no more than 6 months after the end of the reporting year. If the reporting year ends 31 March then reports to communities must be made available by 30 September of the same year.

These reports should be laid out so that people can easily see how things that are important to communities are changing. CPPs should think about how their communities get to know this information. There are lots of ways to share information and CPPs should liaise ask local communities what works best for them. This could include for example local face to face meetings, displays in local libraries or shops, newsletters or paper reports. Information could be provided through PCs, laptops or smart phones.

When can people and communities engage?

The calendar for community planning is agreed locally but CPPs should always be looking for chances to improve things in our communities. Community planning works best when people and communities can share their views regularly, can become involved as much as they want to, and can see how it has made a difference to the local community.

How can community groups feed their views into community planning partnerships?

The Scottish Government supports 32 third sector interfaces in Scotland, one in each council area. They provide support and information to third sector organisations at a local level. Third sector interfaces support effective community planning by building links between third sector bodies and the CPP. Each of the 32 third sector interfaces develops local arrangements to engage with and involve the full range of the third sector locally. The third sector is made up of a wide range of community interest groups and includes volunteers, charities, social enterprises, mutual, voluntary groups, community groups, sports associations and others. Third sector organisations are not public bodies or private companies.

Any third sector organisation keen to participate and engage with the community planning process, may wish to contact their local third sector interface. A list of all the third sector interfaces in Scotland, along with their contact details can be found on the Voluntary Action Scotland website, via this link Voluntary Action Scotland - or alternatively by telephoning 0141 353 7318.

There are also a wide range of community-led organisations in every community in Scotland. These include Community Councils, Community Development Trusts, Community-Based Housing Associations, and Community-Led Health Projects amongst others. Community bodies may also be able to feed their views in to CPPs via these organisations.

Contact details for each CPP are available in the Annex.

Participation requests

To further strengthen communities' voices in shaping public services we have also introduced participation requests.

Participation requests give community groups who believe they can help improve local public services an opportunity to have a discussion with public bodies (Councils, NHS, Police Scotland and others) who deliver those services.

They are not a replacement for the engagement and participation required for effective community planning but they do provide an opportunity for those communities who find it difficult to be heard to share their views.

Further information is available via this participation requests weblink -


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