Review of community planning
Greater local integration in public services must deliver better outcomes for people, Local Government Minister Derek Mackay said today.
Addressing the COSLA leaders meeting in Edinburgh today for the first time, Mr Mackay affirmed that the Scottish Government and local government have begun a joint review of community planning, to identify how community planning can be made more effective and enable new Single Outcome Agreements between the Scottish Government and Community Planning Partnerships to be agreed as quickly as possible after the local elections in May.
In a wide-ranging speech, Mr Mackay confirmed that Ministers are exploring alternative ways of approaching the regular review of councillors remuneration, allowances, and expenses.
The Minister also highlighted the role of performance and innovation to embed and extend reforms in the planning system.
Derek Mackay said:
“The Community planning process ultimately stands or falls on whether it delivers better outcomes for individuals and communities. If we’re going to meet the financial pressures, changing demography and the growing social needs Scotland faces, we need radical public service reform - and community planning must keep up with the pace.
“Parts of the current community planning framework need strengthening. It must deliver better outcomes, greater integration of public services at a local level, greater consistency in local integration and clearer accountability for partners.
“The community planning review is being carried out in partnership with local government and I look forward to working in partnership with COSLA to consider implementing changes soon after the local elections in May. There is a continuing need for strong relationships between Scottish Government and Local Government and I hope to continue supporting this with Scotland’s Council Leaders.
“It‘s also part of my role to drive forward public service reform, removing duplication and improving efficiency. The role of the Scottish Local Authorities Remuneration Committee is under review, considering the lack of further work required on councillors’ remuneration. There may well be a better way to approach this in future years.”
COSLA President Councillor Pat Watters said: “It is great to see that the Minister’s move from local government to a Ministerial position has not changed his zest and enthusiasm for continuing to deliver excellence in local government services, the only slight change is that instead of doing so directly as a Council Leader he is now doing so in partnership with us.
“I also particularly welcome the minister’s commitment at Leaders today to review Community Planning, along with his recognition of the lead role of local authorities and the need to ensure all partners in the community planning process are committing on an equal basis.”
The Minster also highlighted the role of performance and innovation in the planning system to embed and extend reforms. He continued:
“Planning is crucial to enable good development and I don’t want to see our planning system blamed for slowing economic recovery. Creating an ‘open for business culture’ in planning authorities, and across the public sector, is key to delivering development on the ground. That means an efficient, speedy system, focused on outcomes and providing business with the certainty it needs to make the decision to invest in Scotland.
“I am encouraged to see local authorities being proactive and innovative in meeting this challenge - but I understand as well as anyone that a high-performing planning service comes with a price tag.
“The Government has already made clear we are prepared to increase planning application fees, but resources and performance are inextricably linked - there needs to be firm actions and improved results if we’re to expect anyone to pay more for their planning services. So we have been working closely with local government on a new performance framework and on a new fees structure that reflects more accurately the actual costs of handling applications and we will consult on planning fees shortly. That is the way we can give developers and communities the quality planning service they need and deserve.”