Summary of the Act

The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015

The commitement to community empowerment and asset ownership has been further strengthened by the introductiion of this Act, with the following stated aim from the Scottish Government:

"The Community Empowerment Act does a number of things including: extending the community right to buy, making it simpler for communities to take over public sector land and buildings, and strengthening the statutory base for community planning.  Crucially it can help empower community bodies through the ownership of land and buildings and strengthening their voices in the deciison and services that matter to them"  Scottish Government

The Act

  • Aims to change the balance of power between communities and the public sector.
  • Introduces many more rights for community bodies.
  • Strengthens their voices in the decisions that matter to them.
  • Encourages partnership working between service providers and communities, cementing the focus on achieving outcomes and tackling inequalities.
  • Enables communities to make requests not just to local authorities but to a wide-ranging list of public bodies (relevant authorities), for any land or buildings they feel they could use in a better way to deliver services and benefits.

There are 11 areas covered by the Act:

Part

Topic

Main content

Part One

National Outcomes

Requires Scottish Ministers to continue the approach of setting national outcomes for Scotland, based on consultation, which guide the work of public authorities.

Part Two

Community Planning

Places Community Planning Partnerships (CPP) on a statutory footing and imposes duties on them around the planning and delivery of local outcomes, and the involvement of community bodies at all stages of community planning.

Part Three

Participation Requests

Provides a mechanism for community bodies to put forward their ideas for how services could be changed to improve outcomes for their community. 

Part Four

Community rights to buy land

Amends the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, extending the community right to buy to all of Scotland (urban and rural) and improving procedures.

Part Five

Asset Transfer Requests

Provides community bodies with a right to request to purchase, lease, manage or use land and buildings belonging to local authorities, Scottish public bodies or Scottish Ministers. 

Part Six

Delegation of Forestry Commissioners’ functions

Allows for different types of community body to be involved in forestry leasing.

Part Seven

Football Clubs

Gives supporters a role in decision-making, or even ownership when the opportunity arises, of their football clubs.

Part Eight

Common Good Property

Places a statutory duty on local authorities to establish and maintain a register of all property held by them for the common good. It also requires local authorities to publish their proposals and consult community bodies before disposing of or changing the use of common good assets.

Part Nine

Allotments

Updates and simplifies legislation on allotments. It requires local authorities to take reasonable steps to provide allotments if waiting lists exceed certain trigger points, strengthens the protection for allotments, requires fair rents to be set and allows tenants to sell surplus produce grown on an allotment (other than with a view to making a profit).

Part Ten

Participation in public decision-making

A new regulation-making power enabling Ministers to require Scottish public authorities to promote and facilitate the participation of members of the public in the decisions and activities of the authority, including in the allocation of its resources. Involving people and communities in making decisions helps build community capacity and also helps the public sector identify local needs and priorities and target budgets more effectively.

Part Eleven

Non-domestic rates

Provides for a new power for councils to create and fund their own localised business rates relief schemes, in addition to existing national rates relief, to better reflect local needs and support communities.