Why do it - the benefits

The Scottish Government is committed to increasing the pace of public service reform and empowering more communities in Scotland. This forms part of the Scottish Government’s response to the recommendations of the Christie Commission and the Scottish Government’s and COSLA’s review of Community Planning.

The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015, came into force on 23rd January 2017. 

The Act:

  • Makes it easier for communities to take over public sector assets including abandoned, neglected or detrimental land.
  • Extends the Community Right to Buy to all of Scotland, including towns and cities.
  • Promotes significantly improved community participation in the design and delivery of public services.

The transfer of assets to well-run community organisations (anchor organisations) can lead to a wide range of benefits for local authorities, their partners, and local communities. These include:

  • The long-term social, economic and environmental transformation of communities aligning to the local authority’s Single Outcome Agreement and/or Corporate Plan. Where property is concerned, the potential for transformative change needs to be weighed against the potential capital receipts and loss of services associated with commercial disposal.
  • More confident and robust community organisations. Ownership of an asset can enable community organisations to develop diverse and long-term revenue streams under their own control, and thereby become more sustainable
  • A renewed sense of civic pride and responsibility. Where local people feel a greater sense of ownership over their local assets they tend to be better used and protected as a result.
  • The involvement of local people in shaping and regenerating their communities can be a catalyst for local volunteering and increasing community cohesion.
  • Creating new opportunities for learning and capacity building in communities. Those that go through the process of taking on and running assets tend to develop stronger governance and business skills; strengthening their position as appropriate partners for further delivery of local services.
  • Developing a better quality of relationship between the citizen, the community and the local authority, through the transfer of responsibility and opportunity to community organisations.
  • Can create new partnership and collaborations at a local level. Where control of an asset lies closer to the local community, the group can become strong partners in local service delivery and more likely to initiate collaboration in the future.

Related Resources

The Christie Commission - Future Delivery of Public Services

In contrast to previous work concentrating on specific aspects of public service reform, this Commission was asked to look across the whole field of public service delivery, and examine the challenges, obstacles and opportunities that lie before us. On this basis, the commission were asked to map out a way forward for the reform of public services.  This included recommentations that recognise "effective services must be designed with and for people and communities – not delivered ‘top down’ for administrative convenience."

PDF icon Chrsitie Commission.pdf

Communities controlling assets: a better understanding

This report contains the findings from research commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation on the experience of community organisations controlling assets in the UK.

PDF icon Communities controlling assets: a better understanding (Joseph Rowntree Foundation)