This report presents findings from an evaluation of Part 3 of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 (the Act). Implemented on 1 April 2017, Part 3 of the Act introduced participation requests, offering an opportunity for increased community engagement between community participation bodies and public service authorities (PSAs).
The Scottish Government is statutorily required to evaluate Part 3 of the Act within three years of its enactment, and to report on how participation requests are being implemented by public service authorities, utilised by communities, and what impact they have on community empowerment and reduction of inequalities of outcome. The evaluation should also consider the possible need for an appeal mechanism.
As part of the Scottish Government's commitment to review Part 3 of the Act and its impact on community empowerment, in 2018 the Scottish Government commissioned a team at the Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health, Glasgow Caledonian University, to undertake research to document and evaluate the processes and outcomes related to participation requests, with a particular focus on how Part 3 of the Act addresses (or reproduces) social and economic inequalities. Specifically, the evaluation seeks to answer the following questions:
1. Whether, how, and to what extent, is Part 3 of the Act being implemented as intended in the legislation and guidance?
2. To what extent does implementation of Part 3 of the Act improve community–public authority engagement, dialogue and relationships, and with what potential contribution to improved public services?
3. What is the pattern of take up and use of Part 3 of the Act among different community groups? What are the potential implications of these patterns for local inequalities of outcomes?
4. Whether, how, and to what extent do communities feel more empowered as a result of the availability, take up and use of Part 3 of the Act?
By exploring these questions during the early stages of the policy implementation, this report contributes to the Scottish Government's commitment to review the Act and impact it has on community empowerment.
The evaluation was informed by a study conducted by Myers, Geyer and Craig (2017) who assessed the evaluability of Part 3 of the Act and developed a Theory of Change model (Figure 1) to describe how the implementation of Part 3 of the Act might contribute to change. This model identified key activities, outputs, and intermediate and longer-term outcomes relating to the implementation of Part 3 of the Act. We have structured our approach to undertaking and reporting on this evaluation to reflect the structure and components of Myers et al.'s (2017) Theory of Change.
This report is structured as follows: Section Two outlines the background to participation requests; Section Three details the approach undertaken for this evaluation; and Section Four reports on participation request activity and trends (addressing research questions 1 and 3), Section Five presents findings relating to the implementation of participation requests (research questions 1 and 3) and Section Six details findings related to intermediary outcomes of Part 3 of the Act (research question 2). Section Seven outlines evidence pertaining to longer-term outcomes of Part 3 of the Act (research questions 2 and 4). Section Eight presents a case study of a participation request submitted by Portobello Community Council. Section Nine presents a revised Theory of Change for participation requests, drawing on the findings of the evaluation. Recommendations, limitations of the study and conclusions are presented in Sections Ten, Eleven, and Twelve respectively.