The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 introduces Participation Requests aiming to extend and improve community participation in improving outcomes for communities. The legislation enables communities to request to participate in decisions and processes which are aimed at improving outcomes. The Act states that a community participation body may make a request to a public service authority to permit the body to participate in an outcome improvement process.
Participation requests and the process of community engagement around them should lead to improved community participation so that communities have more influence over the services and decisions that affect their lives. Some of the benefits of good community engagement and better participation include:
- The way in which public services are planned, developed and delivered is influenced by, and responds to, community need.
- People who find it difficult to get involved (for example, because of language barriers, disability, poverty or discrimination) help to influence the decisions that affect their lives.
- The various strengths and assets in communities and across public and private sector agencies are used effectively to deal with the issues communities face.
- New relationships are developed between communities and public sector bodies which build trust and make joint action possible
The basic Participation Request Process is as follows:
- A community participation body (see definition) puts forward a participation request to a public service authority asking them to take part in a process with a view to improving the outcome set out by the community body.
- The public service authority must agree to the request and set up an outcome improvement process unless there are reasonable grounds for refusal. If it refuses the request, it must explain the reasons.
- How the outcome improvement process will work and how long it should take is discussed between the community participation body and the public service authority.
- At the end of the process the public service authority must publish a report on summarising the process, whether the outcomes were improved and how the community body contributed to that improvement.