Local People Leading – A Vision for a Stronger Community Sector

Local People Leading – A Vision for a Stronger Community Sector
Scottish Community Alliance
March 2016




Scotland’s community-based networks have collaborated over a six-month period to produce this joint vision of how Scotland’s community sector can grow and develop.  These national intermediaries represent a wide variety of community interests, with a collective membership spanning the length and breadth of Scotland. Together these networks form the Scottish Community Alliance.


This report has been written at a time when the spotlight of public policy is focused as never before on the role that Scotland’s communities can play in helping to meet the many challenges facing the country. It offers a brief analysis of the key factors that determine these social, economic and environmental challenges and a realistic appraisal of how communities contribute to the solutions.


The report aims to distinguish the community sector from other parts of the broader third sector, as being the wide range of self-organised activity that is led by, and accountable to, the people who live and work in geographically defined areas. Often this activity takes place under the radar of public awareness and as such, its contribution to both the social and the real economy is often underestimated.


The report sets out our shared vision for communities to become more empowered and for the community sector as a whole, to become stronger.


Collectively we seek to create the conditions for genuine and widespread community empowerment. This will only occur when local people have the confidence and the means to drive forward programmes of change within their communities. This invariably means having real influence over local decision-making as well as control over resources.


We have set out four core principles that underpin our vision. These principles are:


1. Subsidiarity
2. Self-Determination
3. Local by Default
4. Equality and Fairness


We recognise that achieving our vision requires fundamental and systemic change. The report therefore describes the changes that are needed across three interdependent spheres of activity: 


• Local Democracy, including measures to reinvigorate representative and participatory democracy, and put communities at the heart of Scotland’s planning system.


• Public services, where there needs to be a major shift towards commissioning services more locally, more support for sustainable service delivery through community and cooperative enterprises, and a comprehensive programme of support to facilitate the effective transfer of public assets.


• The Community Sector, where we call for sustained investment in community anchor organisations, a national community leadership initiative, support for selforganising, mutually supportive community networks, and the rebuilding of a national community development infrastructure. 


To make the type of step-change required, we call on government, both national and local, to collaborate on a long-term plan to support the growth and future development of Scotland’s community sector.


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