SCVO welcomes the opportunity to respond to this inquiry . We are pleased that the committee has opted for an ‘open information gathering’ approach. We would like to make the following five suggestions for improving the delivery of regeneration.
Commit to genuine community-led regeneration
It is now widely recognised that communities are best placed to identify the priorities in their area and lead on delivering the solutions. The third sector views these community-led approaches as the key to successful regeneration. However, it is important that this is not compromised to become simply community involvement in public sector-led activity. The regeneration strategy Achieving a Sustainable Future recognises this when it states: ‘However, the Scottish Government is clear that the involvement of local people in public sector-led activity is not community led regeneration. ’ It is important that this commitment is carried forward and incorporated into delivery.
Broaden the scope and eligibility criteria for the People and Communities Fund
The People and Communities Fund (PCF) should provide the funds for community organisations to take forward community-led regeneration. However, the view of many in the third sector is that the fund is not providing the flexibility required for community-led regeneration.
As can be seen by the first round of approved funding , the majority of awards have been made to housing associations doing employability work. This is valuable and important work but not the breadth of activity required for diverse communities.
In having only two priorities (employability and preventative action) it is missing the fundamental principle of community-led regeneration which allows communities to set their priorities and outcomes. To be effective the fund should have an entirely open remit which allows communities to dictate what the priorities are in their area and what methods they employ to meet those priorities.
Support a new generation of Community Anchor organisations
To encourage a new generation of community anchor organisations funding and support is required to help
organisations become established. Successes in places like Twechar and Neilston have been dependent on
enormous voluntary commitment, especially in the early stages. To help other communities realise their
ambitions, support is needed for them to get started and establish sustainable projects. This will be
particularly critical in disadvantaged communities where ideas and commitment are high but time and
resources are scarce.
A profile of some of Scotland’s leading community anchors has been compiled by SCVO member; Development Trust Association Scotland:
Ensure regeneration aligns with other policy and strategy agendas
The Christie Commission recommendation that: ‘public services are built around people and communities’ has particular resonance with community-led regeneration and the assets-based approach. In addition to the Christie Commission, the regeneration strategy must also dovetail with other policy agendas. The Community Empowerment Bill, the Procurement Reform Bill, the Integration of Health and Social Care, the Land Reform Review and measures to tackle unemployment, amongst others, will all have a role to play in regenerating communities. Regeneration strategy must also account for the changes to the welfare system and the damaging impact this could have on regeneration efforts and communities resilience.
Build on the assets already present in communities
Successful projects build on the local knowledge of the human and physical resources in the community and how they can be unlocked to tackle the problems which have persisted. The assets-based approach is based on working with people, not “doing things to” them. In contrast, the more usual “treatment” approach often fails to recognise what abilities and resources people already have and can result in a culture of dependency. An assets-based approach could therefore help build more resilient and sustainable communities.
The third sector views genuine community-led approaches as the key to delivering successful regeneration. Building on the assets in communities and supporting community anchor organisations to play a central role should also be the priority for the regeneration strategy. Ensuring other policy agendas contribute will be crucial for success. The welfare reform agenda could undermine resilience and threaten regeneration efforts in the most disadvantaged communities, so it will be necessary to assess and mitigate the worst impacts of these changes.