The Scottish Executive must fundamentally change its way of working if community planning partnerships are to become significantly more effective, according to the Scottish Parliament’s Audit Committee.
In a report out today, the Committee criticises Executive departments for failing to work together. The Committee found that this lack of
co-ordination between departments is:
- leading to a lack of clarity about policy priorities; and
- creating significant bureaucracy.
Community planning is the process through which public sector organisations work together, with local communities, business and voluntary sectors to identify and solve local problems, improve services and share resources. Councils are required to establish community planning partnerships to aid public services work together.
Committee Convener Brian Monteith MSP said:
“During this inquiry the Committee saw how community planning can benefit communities, helping to deliver better, more streamlined services that meet people’s needs.
“Obstacles to effective community planning can be overcome locally, through creating a culture of trust, openness and commitment. However, the potential of the community planning process is being undermined by the failure of Executive departments to work together.
“This lack of collaboration means that community planning partnerships are set too many priorities that are not effectively linked. There are also too many different funding streams and monitoring arrangements are overly complex.
“All this creates a burden for the agencies involved in community planning. As a result too much effort and resource can be tied up in managing community planning structures, rather than delivering the real improvements needed by local communities.”
The committee concluded that the Executive must improve joint working between departments. The report recommends that the Executive:
- ensure that policies are “joined-up” and effectively prioritised;
- streamline funding;
- reduce the monitoring and reporting burden on community planning partnerships; and
- ensure that best practice from existing successful projects is rolled out across Scotland .
The report sets out the Committee’s findings and recommendations in relation to its inquiry into the report of the Auditor General for Scotland entitled: “Community planning: an initial review” (AGS/2006/7)
During its inquiry the Committee undertook a fact finding visit to East Ayrshire to meet with representatives of the community planning partnership. Members of the committee also visited the North West Kilmarnock Area Centre, a “one stop shop” facility where staff from East Ayrshire Council, NHS Ayrshire and Arran and the voluntary sector work side by side to provide “joined-up” health and social care services to the local community.
The committee also held two oral evidence sessions; a round table session with representatives of community planning partnerships across Scotland and an evidence session with the Head of the Scottish Executive’s Finance and Central Services Department.
View the committee report