3. A DESCRIPTION OF THE CURRENT POLICY AND PRACTICE IN THE PLANNING, DEVELOPMENT AND IMPLEMENTATION OF LOCAL COMMUNITY REGENERATION INTERVENTIONS
3.1 In 2007, the Scottish Government agreed a Concordat with COSLA13. This set out a new relationship between central and local government. It led to Community Planning Partnerships in each local authority area having the responsibility for preparing Single Outcome Agreements - giving local outcomes which would assist in meeting the Government's national outcomes. It has also led to the removal of many ring fenced budgets for local authorities.
3.2 The Scottish Government's top priority (its 'Purpose') is to focus the Government and public services on creating a more successful country, with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, through increasing sustainable economic growth. 14
3.3 Regeneration is the lasting transformation of places to benefit those who live and work there. The Scottish Government works to do this sustainably through enabling targeted action in the most disadvantaged areas and by devolving power locally. 15
3.4 Regeneration can contribute to all five of the Government's strategic objectives which are to create a Scotland which is:
- Wealthier and fairer;
- Safer and stronger;
- Smarter; and
3.5 The Government believes that, in particular, realising economic opportunity to support growth and tackle concentrated poverty will help to create a wealthier and fairer Scotland.
Single Outcome Agreements
3.6 A central element of the new relationship set out in the Concordat was the reduction of ring fencing of local government funding and the creation of a Single Outcome Agreement ( SOA) between each community planning partnership, and the Scottish Government, based on the 15 National Outcomes. The Single Outcome Agreement sets out the strategic priorities in each community planning area; the outcomes to be delivered by the partners; and how these outcomes will contribute to the Scottish Government's National Outcomes.
3.7 The first Single Outcome Agreements were agreed in the summer of 2008. The second Single Outcome Agreements (prepared by Community Planning Partnerships) are to be agreed in June 2009.
3.8 This move to an outcomes approach is a significant change in the way that public services are planned and delivered in Scotland.
Fairer Scotland Fund
3.9 The Fairer Scotland Fund was established in 2008. It replaced a range of funds which had been targeted at tackling deprivation in Scotland. The previous funds were:
- Community Regeneration Fund;
- Community Voices Fund;
- Working for Families;
- Workforce Plus;
- More Choices More Chances;
- Financial Inclusion; and
- Changing Children's Services Fund.
3.10 By consolidating a range of funds, it was expected that community planning partners would find it easier to integrate services and deliver outcomes.
3.11 The Fairer Scotland Fund is allocated to Community Planning Partnerships to help them achieve sustainable economic growth by:
- regenerating disadvantaged communities;
- tackling poverty by helping vulnerable people and groups; and
- overcoming barriers to employment.
3.12 As the overall focus of the fund is to regenerate disadvantaged communities, the Fairer Scotland Fund has been allocated to Community Planning Partnerships based on the measures of deprivation from the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation. The current formula for allocation is substantially based on the 15% most deprived areas in Scotland. But it also takes account both of community planning areas with particularly high concentrations of deprivation and also individual measures of deprivation across the whole community planning area.
3.13 Community Planning Partnerships are using the fund to tackle local issues related to poverty and disadvantage in the most effective way. The fund is intended as a catalyst to accelerate the achievement of real outcomes for the most disadvantaged areas and vulnerable people. Results will be tracked through the Single Outcome Agreements. The Scottish Government expects to see evidence emerge over time of positive change and meaningful community involvement and empowerment.
3.14 The Fairer Scotland Fund is ring-fenced until March 2010 (but not thereafter), to allow all the Community Planning Partnership priority outcomes linked to regenerating communities, tackling poverty, and overcoming barriers to employment to be fully embedded within Single Outcome Agreements.
3.15 The principles underpinning the fund are:
- a clear focus on investment to address the causes of poverty, not only its symptoms;
- a strong emphasis placed on making early interventions for vulnerable individuals, families and disadvantaged communities;
- promotion of joint working between local partners;
- focused action on improving employability as a key means of tackling poverty; and
- empowering communities and individuals to influence and inform the decisions made by Community Planning Partnerships.
3.16 The Scottish Government has commissioned ODS Consulting 16 to undertake a review of the first two rounds of the Fairer Scotland Fund ( FSF) and its integration into Single Outcome Agreements. This is currently underway and will:
- assess the first stage of development and implementation of the Fairer Scotland Fund;
- provide a detailed picture of the continued support needs of Community Planning Partnerships in tackling poverty and deprivation under an outcome based framework; and
- inform aspects of future programme development.
3.17 Some of the preliminary issues arising from the Community Planning Partnerships involved in this research are:
- there is growing skill and confidence in planning outcomes focused approaches (although this is far from universal and there can still be a focus on outputs rather than outcomes) but monitoring and reporting still tend to be output and activity based;
- a significant number of community planning partnerships have targeted the FSF on a thematic approach (on themes like employability, health inequalities, or community safety) and some have used 'stretch targets' to make sure that this thematic approach had most impact in the areas of greatest disadvantage;
- there is a perception that partnership working has improved - in part because people have shared outcomes, which they work together to achieve; in part because 'partners are talking about outcomes rather than spending time focusing on the various sources of funding, applicability, and diverse reporting and auditing deadlines' 17; and in part because of a growing tradition of joint working;
- there has been a general welcome for bringing together seven different funding streams into the FSF and a suggestion that this has reduced the administrative burden in terms of progress meetings; reports; data gathering and monitoring - which can now be done once rather than seven times;
- there is support for the 'lighter touch' by the Government to the FSF, which was compared to 'micro-management' of some previous programmes - but community planning partners were still confident that they could get advice when this was required;
- there is a welcome from many Community Planning Partnerships that the FSF was less tightly bounded by the geography of the most deprived areas - but there is a possibility that some focus has been taken away from tackling concentrated deprivation in some areas;
- there is currently a lack of certainty in many areas about the impact of the removal of ring fencing from 2010 - both in terms of the resources that will be available and in the focus on the most deprived areas;
- there were mixed responses about community engagement - with some areas feeling that this was more effective, but many feeling that it had been harder to engage communities in the more thematic approaches which may operate at a community planning wide level; and
- there has been a significant increase in more formal processes for identifying and managing FSF projects and programmes - with growth of commissioning, Service Level Agreements and Contracts.
Joining it up
3.18 The use of targeted regeneration funds through the Fairer Scotland Fund complements the three main Scottish Government social policy frameworks which set out how disadvantage will be tackled. The three frameworks are:
- Achieving Our Potential18-a framework to tackle poverty and income inequality in Scotland.
- Early Years Framework19-to give children the best possible start in life.
- Equally Well20-an approach to tackling health inequalities in Scotland.
These national frameworks are thematic in nature and as such do not focus directly on the spatial dimensions of deprivation. Equally Well does, however, provide commentary on the Scottish Government's ambition for narrowing health inequalities between communities.
3.19 The Government states in 'Achieving Our Potential': '.... it's time to get to grips with poverty. We want to narrow the gap between rich and poor, and in doing so build stronger communities."
3.20 This chimes with one of COSLA's key messages in its guidance on Single Outcome Agreements 21 where it says: "General improvement that leaves some of our people living well below the standards of the majority will not meet either national or local ambitions for a fairer Scotland". It also states:
"Addressing inequalities, and improving equality, in quality of life and opportunities in life is a national outcome in its own right, but also a cross-cutting theme that should be considered across the Single Outcome Agreement."
3.21 The Fairer Scotland Fund (and the wider Single Outcome Agreements) can help link the national policy frameworks to appropriate local actions. This should be stated clearly - not least as the ambitions for a fairer Scotland will rely on achieving real change in the most deprived areas of Scotland.
Summary of lessons learned
- A much clearer and comprehensive link between national and local outcomes is being developed. However, there is a need for support and training for those involved, building on the recently established Community Regeneration and Tackling Poverty Learning Network, to make sure that the outcomes focused approach is embedded amongst all community planning partners.
- There is evidence that the amalgamation of a range of funds into the Fairer Scotland Fund has streamlined the process. It appears that it has also helped partners to focus on the outcomes, rather than on the funding streams.
- There are some signs that community members have found it harder to influence decisions, with a feeling that the process is more high level and 'top down' than in some previous programmes. It is important that significant input from communities is maintained (or developed) - as community regeneration cannot be successful without the engagement of the community.
- The Regeneration Outcomes Agreements were generally weak on statutory equalities issues, despite guidance being given on this. With less guidance on this issue, equalities issues are understated in the Fairer Scotland Fund - although some Community Planning Partnerships have done good work in this area. There is a need to keep equalities issues at the front of people's minds when considering the FSF.
- The 'light touch' approach to oversight of the programme has been generally welcomed. But there is some risk that the intended focus on the most disadvantaged may be diluted over time, with the more flexible approach through SOAs. This suggests that the use of 'stretch targets' to focus on the main target group should be encouraged. In addition, a clear statement of the challenges that remain in deprived areas would help - as would clarification of how mainstream social policies will play their part in changing deprived areas for the better.