Participation handbook

This handbook provides a guide to good practice in participation work across Scottish Government. It provides information about participatory methods and when to use them, the development of an effective participation strategy, and signposts to further resources.

When to inform

Informing is the foundation of any engagement process and should be understood to be applicable to all stages of the delivery cycle.

As a standalone process, it is most appropriate when there is little or no room for negotiation (e.g. legal obligations) or a decision has already been made (e.g. clear manifesto commitments).

Providing information about our activities, policies, plans and performance is also the foundation that supports all other ways of engaging the public and stakeholder groups in our work. It is a vital part of building good relationships.

Informing activities that assist participation include:

  • letting the public know that work is going on around a particular issue
  • communicating opportunities for participation in policy development
  • supporting people to understand the details of a particular policy
  • publishing information or data related to an issue
  • announcing a government decision

Key principles for effective information provision include:

  • that information must be provided in accessible and relevant ways (including in ‘plain English’ and in translation and other formats)
  • that information must be easy to find or request and effectively signposted
  • that relevant information should not be withheld unless there is a strong and justifiable case for doing so

When providing information it is important to be clear on your target audience, your purpose, your channels, and the potential impacts for the audience. You may wish to provide avenues for your audience to respond – do so in a way that manages expectations, making clear what the possible range of outcomes are for these responses.

Scottish Government staff should contact the Communications and Ministerial Support Directorate for advice on communicating with and informing the public.



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