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by Kate Shannon
27 November 2014
Community planning is not yet realising its potential

Community planning is not yet realising its potential

Community planning has a long way to go before it realises its full potential, according to a new report.

Community planning partnerships (CPPs) were set up over a decade ago in all 32 council areas to bring together councils, health boards, and a range of other bodies to jointly plan and deliver better services for their communities.

The document, published today for the Accounts Commission and the Auditor General for Scotland, said partners are now taking a more active part in sharing ownership of priorities, understanding what resources are available, and recognising the importance of prevention. 

However, it added that leadership and scrutiny remain inconsistent. 

Douglas Sinclair, chairman of the Accounts Commission, said: "There has been encouraging progress over the last year but community planning is still a long way from achieving its full potential. The key to a successful partnership is building mutual trust. That's not easy when each partner organisation has its own priorities and structures.

"With strong leadership, partnerships can then agree clear priorities provide effective challenge, and deliver change on the ground."

The report said many CPPs are still not clear about what they are expected to achieve and there is confusion over whether the focus on community planning should be more on local needs or delivering national priorities. 

It added that the lack of a coherent national framework for assessing the performance and pace of improvement of CPPs means there is no overall picture of how individual CPPs are performing; and the Scottish Government needs to more consistently hold central government bodies and the NHS to account for their contributions to community planning.

Caroline Gardner, Auditor General for Scotland said: "CPPs now face a double squeeze - much more is expected of them at a time of much tighter public finances. That means difficult choices for them, particularly over moving resources to longer term prevention when still meeting current demands.

"This makes it all the more important that they make effective use of information to identify local needs and target resources appropriately." 

The National Community Planning Group has recently set out its plans for an ambitious but realistic improvement agenda for community planning. It recommends the need to work with the Scottish Government and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities on what this new approach means in practice for CPPs and how successful delivery will be measured.

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