Community Empowerment is about communities being supported to do things for themselves and to people having their voices heard in the planning and delivery of services. The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 provides a legal framework that promotes and encourages community empowerment and participation, and places duties on public sector partners to play a full and active role in community planning, and the resourcing and delivery of local priority outcomes.
Successful community planning needs meaningful, sustained and effective engagement with local people and communities. The Community Planning Partnership values the skills, capacity, knowledge and potential that our communities have and seeks to build on the commitment and confidence evident in local groups and organisations.
A framework for Community Engagement in East Ayrshire was approved and adopted by East Ayrshire Council and the East Ayrshire Community Planning Partnership in November 2016. The Framework sets out clear principles and standards for community engagement for all partners and communities to apply based on the National Standards for Community Engagement.
In addition, the Charter for Involvement which sets out how supported people want to be involved in the support that they get, in the organisations that provide their services, and in the wider community was adopted by Cabinet in October 2018.
The Council recognises the importance of people having choice and control in how their care is provided, this is central to how the Self Directed Support legislation has been implemented using an 'everyone together' approach.
The most important aim of the Charter is for people who receive support to be more listened to and respected. The aim sets out 12 statements on how people can have more choice and control and these should be applied and considered alongside the East Ayrshire Community Engagement Framework. View more information on the Charter for Involvement on Arc Scotland's YouTube channel.
We have a long and strong tradition of community engagement in East Ayrshire and as partners, we are fully committed to engaging our communities to help us plan and deliver the services that people need and that make best use of our resources. We also recognise that communities have their own strengths and assets and have an important role in co-producing services that meet people’s needs and aspirations.
Our communities are at the heart of everything that we do. At a strategic level communities are represented on the CPP Board by four members from Community Councils and Community Led Action Plan Steering Groups. We also have a number of forums and mechanisms which enable local people to shape and to participate in Community Planning in East Ayrshire:
Community Councils and Community Led Action Plan Steering Groups: These local organisations link in to the formal Community Planning Partnership via the four representatives on the Community Planning Partnership Board, and also have broader links in to the work of the partnership, primarily through East Ayrshire Council’s Vibrant Communities Service.
East Ayrshire Council’s Vibrant Communities Service works with all sectors of our community, including children and young people, adults and older people and the wider community, to develop sustainable communities and reduce inequalities through prevention and early intervention services, together with a range of community planning partners. Vibrant Communities are also responsible for East Ayrshire Community Learning and Development Framework 2021-2024 which has been prepared in response to the requirements for Community Learning and Development (Scotland) Regulations 2013 and links to the priorities and actions contained within East Ayrshire Community Plan 2015- 2030.
East Ayrshire Community Planning Residents’ Surveys are undertaken at approximately three year intervals to build information on the demographics of the East Ayrshire population; to develop an increased understanding of local priorities and views of residents on public service provision/satisfaction; and to inform performance measurement and reporting in respect of Community Planning and the associated Local Outcomes Improvement Plan.
Implications of the New Legislation
Overall, the Act will help to empower community bodies through the ownership or control of land and buildings, and by strengthening their voices in decisions about public services.
- As a consequence of this Act, Community Planning now has a statutory purpose focused on improving outcomes: 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.
- The Act also seeks to strengthen communities’ participation in community planning by requiring CPPs to 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, particularly community bodies which represent those communities experiencing socio-economic disadvantage.
- The Act provides a new way for communities to initiate dialogue with public service authorities on their own terms, through new participation requests. It also makes significant changes to the legislative frameworks surrounding Community Right to Buy and Asset Transfer Requests, to the benefit of local communities.
As Community Empowerment continues to develop in East Ayrshire, regular updates will continue to be provided to the Community Planning Partnership Board.