Community Wellbeing – Post-Legislative Scrutiny of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015, parts 3 and 5


About the Inquiry

The Committee carried out post-legislative scrutiny of two key parts of the landmark Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015. This involved hearing from experts, individuals and communities about whether the original aims of the legislation were being met.

This is the remit the Committee agreed:

“The Community Empowerment Act (2015) aimed to empower communities through strengthening their voices in the decision-making process and helping them to own and manage land and buildings. Focussing on Parts 3 and 5 of the Act, the Committee will assess the extent to which this has happened and explore what impact the Act has had on community wellbeing.”

This inquiry work builds directly on a major listening exercise the Committee carried out last year ‘Your Priorities’(see below), where we sought views across Scotland about what community means to you and how thriving communities can be built and sustained. We received hundreds of responses. Many important points were raised and, while we could not take all of them forward, we decided that community empowerment was the most important theme to have been raised.

The 2015 Act’s vision was of giving grassroots communities the tools they need to be active participants in local decision-making and to help shape and even directly manage local services and amenities.

Part 3 deals with “participation requests” to enable engagement and dialogue between community participation bodies (such as community councils and community development trusts) and public service authorities (for example local authorities or health boards.

Community bodies can make a request to a “public service authority” to participate in a process to improve an outcome of a public service. The community body must explain what experience it has of the service and how it could contribute to its improvement, and the public body must agree to the request for dialogue unless there are reasonable grounds for refusal.

Part 5 of the Act sets out how a “community transfer body” can request to buy, lease, manage, occupy or use land or buildings belonging to a “relevant authority” (again, most likely a local authority), and how the authority is to deal with such requests. Public authorities must transparently assess requests against a specified list of criteria, laid out in the Act, and agree the request unless there are reasonable grounds for refusal.      

The Committee wanted to find out if the ambitions behind parts 3 and 5 of the Act had been met.

Your Priorities

The engagement activities took place over the period 15 November 2019 to 22 January 2020 and during this time, the Committee received over 220 ideas and suggestions from over 700 people from a wide range of backgrounds, ages and locations. The 'Your Priorities tool' is now closed for new entries, but you can still access posts from when the system was live. 

The Scottish Parliament's Information Centre has produced an analysis of the key themes raised during the exercise and attached to this is a summary of the events. You can read the analysis and summary here:



The Committee held evidence sessions on the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015, parts 3 and 5 on the following dates;

Wednesday 09 September 2020

Links to: Papers Minutes Official Report

Wednesday 16 September 2020

Links to: Papers Minutes Official Report

Wednesday 2 December 2020

Links to: Papers Minutes Official Report

Wednesday 9 December 2020

Links to: Papers Minutes Official Report

Following this meeting, the Committee agreed to write to Cosla, Edinburgh City Council and the City of Glasgow Council to seek further information. Read the letters below:

Responses received below:

Wednesday 13 January 2021

Links to : Papers minutes Offical Report

Following this meeting the Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government provided further information for the Committee’s consideration.



The Committee issued surveys to community organisations and public bodies to gather views on their experiences of participation requests and asset transfers. Summaries of the responses received are set out below:

Summary of questionnaire responses:

Community Meeting

Members of the Committee took part in an online community meeting on November 11 hosted by Midlothian Voluntary Action . Participants, which included a number of community organisations, discussed asset transfers and participation requests. Summaries of breakout discussions held during the meeting are available here:

  • Breakout session 1 - Participation Requests – Facilitated by Alexander Stewart MSP
    Summary (103KB pdf)
  • Breakout session 2 - Participation Requests – Facilitated by Sarah Boyack MSP
    Summary (119KB pdf)
  • Breakout session 3 - Asset Transfers – Facilitated by James Dornan MSP
    Summary (72KB pdf)
  • Breakout session 4 - Asset Transfers – Facilitated by Gail Ross MSP
    Summary (90KB pdf)

Written submissions

The Committee also recieved the following written submissions on Community Wellbeing;


The Convener of the Local Government and Communities Committee has written to the following regarding Community Wellbeing and Public Engagement;



The Committee published its report on Wednesday 26 February 2021:

Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government to Convener in response to the report:


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