Enabling rural communities to choose their own priorities and solutions, and supporting them to work on these appropriate solutions, creates resilience and sustainability. A lot of issues can be addressed by communities and in order to do that they need to have the tools and capacity to do it. However, it is important to recognise that some communities are less able to access support and these should be particularly supported with the intention of reducing inequalities of access and leadership. Support for communities needs to be tailored to that community.
Rural communities should be empowered to take action for themselves.
The final draft of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill is currently passing through the Scottish Parliament and should become an Act later this year. The Act will give new powers to communities, both urban and rural. It will take some time for all of the opportunities to become available. Find out more here.
The Land Reform Bill will also provide new powers and opportunities to communities and is going to be presented to the Scottish Parliament later this year. It will be open for consultation before it is finalised and passes through Scottish Parliament. We do not yet know what is going to be in the Land Reform Bill.
The Scottish Rural Parliament Action Plan 2015-16
Objective 1: Increased awareness and engagement amongst communities with the new opportunities available through the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill and the forthcoming Land Reform Bill.
We are seeking:
Relevant organisations to take a coordinated approach to ensuring communities are aware of and have the capacity to access the opportunities available.
Rural communities’ take-up the opportunities offered and share successes and challenges with each other.
- Work with partners to raise awareness of the opportunities offered by the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act and forthcoming Land Reform Act and provide encouragement and support for communities to ensure good uptake of the opportunities by February 2016.
- Feed into the regulations and guidance following the passing of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill between June 2015 and October 2016.
- Gather and promote case studies of empowered rural communities by Oct 2016.
- Facilitate inter-community networking and knowledge exchange by Oct 2016.
Objective 2: Funding for community projects and initiatives is available to community organisations in advance of projects making expenditure.
We are seeking:
A change of policy within the public sector to pay funding for community-led projects in advance of expenditure being made, wherever this is not dictated by EU or other externally controlled rules.
Inclusion of concerns about the payment in arrears of EU grant funds to small projects within the report from the European Rural Parliament.
- Advocate on behalf of rural communities for payment in advance of expenditure to be the norm within the public sector by February 2016.
- Make a submission to the European Rural Parliament to this effect, asking them to lobby for changes on our behalf and on behalf of other countries for whom this is also a concern, by July 2015.
- Represent rural Scotland at the European Rural Parliament in November 2015.
Objective 3: Communities are funded and supported to develop a vision for their local area.
We are seeking: Best practice guidance, funding and support are available to each community in developing their own vision for the future.
- We will work with partners to review the impact of prior community-led planning and visioning work and identify the most effective methods of conducting this work by Dec 2015.
- We will work with partners to establish the case for local community visioning and the resources required to achieve this by Oct 2016.